If you’re hoping to get some information from the Burnaby Fire Department, it’s going to cost you.
Not only that, but CKNW has found that what they’re doing may not be legal.
During a Council meeting, the city approved removing its Fire Department from the freedom of information act – which is used to hold public bodies accountable.
This means that now the department can charge a minimum of $100 for any request.
But Vincent Gogolek with the association responsible for defending freedom of information rights says they don’t have the authority.
“What you’ve done is you’ve taken them out of the act, they’ve removed the fire department, which is subject to the act, and now you’re charging different fees for it. You can’t do that, it’s illegal. It’s outside the power of the City of Burnaby to do that.”
He says the decision could be a slippery slope, with cities charging for documents as a way to hide them.
“They cannot take an entire department like public works, or the fire department, or whatever, and say ‘Oh these documents are now – we now consider these to be all publicly available if you pay $100.”
In a report, the City says the ‘reasonable fee’ will compensate for time spent looking for information.
The city also says that 70 per cent of all FOI requests are for the fire department, adding that charging will help deal with demand.