Hamilton City Clerk: Farmers Market Board Not an Arm of the City under MFIPPA

Joey Coleman/The Public Record

A sign outside of the doors of the Hamilton Farmers' Market advertising hours of operation

Hamilton City Clerk Andrea Holland states the Hamilton Farmers’ Market Board of Directors is not a City of Hamilton body.

This despite the Market using a City of Hamilton facility, Market staff being City of Hamilton staff who use City of Hamilton emails, the Market using the City of Hamilton’s bank account, Market meetings being conducting using the City of Hamilton’s WebEx platform, and its website and hosting being owned by the City of Hamilton.

Holland states the City of Hamilton has no involvement with the Market’s record retention. Holland has not explained how the Market is not part of the City of Hamilton.

The Public Record has been trying for weeks to get a copy of video the Market Board meeting on April 17, 2021.

The meeting was recorded by the City of Hamilton using its WebEx platform by a City of Hamilton staff member.

The Market Board meetings are recording by the City of Hamilton using its WebEx account provided by the City Manager’s Office.

Market managing director Cyrus Tehrani – who is an employee of the City of Hamilton as Chief Digital Officer in the City Manager’s Office and in that role is responsible for open government standards at the City of Hamilton – has not responded to requests for the Market video.

Hamilton Farmers’ Market Board of Directors Meeting using the City of Hamilton WebEx platform.

The Hamilton Farmers’ Market is funded by the City of Hamilton, the Board is appointed by the City of Hamilton Council, all Market staff are City of Hamilton employees, vendors pay rent to the Corporation of the City of Hamilton, and the City Council makes all decisions regarding the finances of the Market.

Holland states the request for public records to the City of Hamilton is misplaced, and that requests should be filed to the Market directly.

Asked for the contact information for the person to address the request, Holland stated she does not know. Holland writes “I see from their website, that there is a contact form that you can fill out … I trust this is the information you are seeking”.

The contact information for the Hamilton Farmers Market website, according to the WHOIS record for the Market, is webmaster@hamilton.ca, the domain is owned by the City of Hamilton, and is hosted on the City of Hamilton’s servers.

Attempts to reach info@hamiltonfarmersmarket.ca and webmaster@hamiltonfarmersmarket.ca both received bounce-backs from mail.hamilton.ca stating these are not valid email addresses.

The Public Record is awaiting response from City Councillor Esther Pauls, who is a member of the Market Board, on how to contact the Market directly without using the City of Hamilton emails issued to the Market.

The Public Record is appealing to the Information and Privacy Commissioner and seeking a ruling that the Hamilton Farmers’ Market is in fact tied to the City of Hamilton.

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