Hamilton City Hall Credit: Joey Coleman

Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has issued another damning ruling against the City of Hamilton for ongoing blatant violations of Ontario’s freedom of information processes.

Once again, the City of Hamilton refused to make representations to the IPC in response to a refusal appeal.

“I invited the city to submit representations in response to a Notice of Inquiry, which summarized the facts and issues in the appeals. The city did not submit representations. The appellant was then invited to submit representations and did so,” reads an IPC ruling.

The City is required by the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to make submissions to the IPC when the City claims records do not exist or are exempt from disclosure.

One of Hamilton City Hall’s favourite violations is to force members of the public to file formal Freedom of Information applications, then claim the public cannot file a request because the City will make the information available by another means of request.

Ontario’s Information Commissioner has ruled this process violates the law.

In the latest incident, a individual filed request for records regarding a retaining wall and a tree protection plan.

The City of Hamilton denied the FOIs, telling the person to attempt to informally access the records by contacting a planning division senior project manager.

“The appellant attempted to retrieve the documents from the city’s office, as directed in its decision letters. Subsequently, the city mailed the appellant what it identified as the publicly available responsive records,” however, the IPC found the City withheld some records.

The requester filed an appeal to Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner to force the City to release records.

In a ruling issued on September 25, 2023, IPC Adjudicator Lan An order the City of Hamilton to conduct a proper search and release the records by October 24, 2023.

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Published: October 16, 2023
Last edited: October 16, 2023
Author: Joey Coleman
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