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Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) helps promote good Regional District government practices by balancing the following principles:

Freedom of Information (FOI)

Protection of Privacy (POP)

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What information can I request?
  2. How do I make a request?
  3. Is there a fee to process my request?
  4. How will the RDNO respond to my request?
  5. How long does the request process take?
  6. How is my personal information protected?

 

What Information Can I Request?

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act) applies to all records (i.e. all recorded information) that are under the custody or control of a public body.  The Act defines records as follows:

“record” includes books, documents, maps, drawings, photographs, letters, vouchers, papers and any other thing on which information is recorded or stored by graphic, electronic, mechanical or other means, but does not include a computer program or any other mechanism that produces records;

It is important to note that the Act covers access to records, and the information contained therein.  It is NOT the intention of the Act, that staff undertake compiled and summarized research in order to answer specific questions.  Applicants are expected to conduct their own research from any records received from the RDNO.

How do I make a Request?

There are two ways to request information from the Regional District of North Okanagan:

  1. Information Request via Routine Channels
    Since almost all of the RDNO’s information is available through routine channels, you will always start by making an informal request.  To do this, contact the Regional District of North Okanagan at 250-550-3700.
     
  2. Formal FOI Requests
    If the information you are seeking is not available through routine channels, then you may make an FOI request for records containing the information.

Unlike routine requests, formal FOI requests will be made in writing.  Your request will provide sufficient detail (see note below) to assist staff in locating and retrieving the records.  You will also indicate whether you want to receive copies of the records or to view the records in person.

To help reduce fees and to minimize taxpayer expense, please narrow the scope of your request as much as possible.  Also, you should try to specify a date range as our records date back more than a century!
  • You may also use our FOI Application Form, although it is not required to make a formal request.  You may deliver, mail, fax or e-mail your FOI request to:

Corporate Services
Regional District of North Okanagan
9848 Aberdeen Road
Coldstream, BC  V1B 2K9
Fax: 250-550-3709

Is there a fee to process my request?

Informal Requests:
When you make an informal request for information, we may charge you a fee to cover costs in processing your request. 

Formal FOI Requests:
The Regional District of North Okanagan does not charge fees for:

  • access to your own personal information
  • FOI requests amounting to $5.00 or less
  • the first three hours spent searching for and retrieving the records

Fees may be charged to cover other charges relating to the cost of processing your FOI request.

If we are going to charge you any fees, we will send you a fee estimate before processing your request.  We may also require you to provide us with a deposit.

For example, the following fees apply for non-commercial applicants (i.e. private individuals):

  • $7.50 per 1/4 hour($30/hour) after the first 3 hours spent locating, retrieving and producing the requested records;
  • $7.50 per 1/4 hour ($30/hour) to prepare records for disclosure (includes the time spent photocopying and reassembling files)
  • $0.25 per page of regular photocopies provided; and
  • Shipping and handling charges (method chosen by applicant)

How will the Regional District respond to my request?

Informal Requests:
When you make an informal request, we will respond to you as quickly as possible.  Depending on the kind of information you are requesting, you may be able to get an answer over the phone.

Formal FOI Requests:
The Act includes several specific exemptions to disclosure, which means that, by law, certain types of records and information are to be protected and not made available to the public.  Some exemptions are mandatory while others are exercised at the discretion of the FOIPP Head (as defined in Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bylaw No. 2504, 2011) based on the relevant circumstances surrounding the request.

For example, reasons for refusing access to information held by the RDNO are generally related to the protection of:

  • personal privacy;
  • business trade secrets or unit pricing;
  • solicitor-client privilege;
  • deliberations of the Board and Board Committees that are authorized to be held in the absence of the public (i.e. Closed or “In Camera” meetings);
  • policy advice, staff recommendations or draft regulations not yet made public;
  • information that may harm a law enforcement matter (this includes bylaw enforcement matters);
  • information that may harm the financial interests of the RDNO or other public body.

The Act requires us to withhold information if release would be an invasion of privacy or cause harm by one of the means listed in the Act, such as harming a law enforcement investigation or threatening anyone’s health or safety.  If the Regional District withholds any information, we will tell you which section or sections of the Act were used in making this decision.

If you do not get access to all information you requested, you will be advised of the reasons for the refusal and the provision(s) of the Act on which the refusal is based.  If you are not satisfied with how the RDNO responds to your FOI request, you have the right to ask the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia to review the RDNO’s response.

How long does the request process take?

The Act requires that we respond to your request within 30 business days of our receipt of your request.  We will make every effort to make the records available to you sooner, if possible.  If your request is especially complicated, we may extend our response time by an additional 30 business days.

How is my personal information protected?

The Act protects personal privacy by restricting the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.  Please note that personal privacy rights extend only to private individuals, not businesses, societies, corporations, etc.

When an individual makes an FOI request to the RDNO, their personal information is protected and is not made public.

Collection:
We only collect personal information when we have the clear authority to do so, or when the collection is related directly to and necessary for an operating program.  When we are collecting personal information, we must do so directly from you, unless we have legal authority to collect the information from another source.  These rules apply even if the personal information is held by another government body.

Use and Disclosure:
The personal information must only be used for the purpose it was collected or for a use consistent with the reason it was collected.  We may also use or disclose personal information in others ways, but only if we have legal authority to do so.  We have security arrangements to protect personal information from unauthorized use or disclosure.

For example, if you make a bylaw enforcement complaint, we ask for your personal information (name, address, telephone number) in order for us to keep you informed of our handling of your complaint.  As a complainant, your personal information is protected and is not made public.  The only time that your identity as a complainant would be disclosed to another public body is to comply with Court proceedings.

 

For more information, contact:

Corporate Services
Regional District of North Okanagan
9848 Aberdeen Road
Coldstream, BC  V1B 2K9
Phone: 250-550-3700
Fax:  250-550-3709