City charges us $1410 to access budget documents

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Skip that trip to Mexico... A whopping bill for a Vancouver FOI request

Just as was starting to see increased revenues as we pull out of this dreadful recession, we received another invoice from the City of Vancouver. This time they are asking us to send them $1410.00 in order that our crack research department can get a hold of a few documents related to the City's budget process. There's goes Vision's openness and transparency promise again.

We put in an FOI asking to see a copy of:

  • any reports produced for the City by Sierra Systems
  • any correspondence between the City's management team and Sierra Systems
  • a copy of the Sierra Systems contract had planned to share these documents with our readers in order to give you an inside look at the backroom discussions taking place regarding Vancouver's budget making process. In particular, what the external consultant told city management regarding who should be "laid off" and when. Obviously there is no way we have the funds to cover this cost, so the documents will forever remained sealed up in the basement vault at 12th and Cambie. 

As many of our readers know, we have successfully used Freedom of Information legislation to break a number of interesting civic stories. Our research revealed it cost $110,000 to fly Carbon Cadman around the world, the were 345 Vancouver police officers making over $100,000 last year and City staff were taking pictures while Snowmageddon raged in Vancouver.

We'll continue to dig deeper over the coming months to provide you with the civic stories few if any other media outlets are covering. Unfortunately, regarding our Sierra Systems FOI, we've officially hit a dead end.


so this kind of stuff makes me boil a little. The city has 14 different tech support desks. There must be 400+ tech staff. They have all the equiptment in the world, but they don't have a "pdf" file of this stuff? It takes 17.5 hours to find it and photocopy it? Why do they have to photocopy it? And they want someone to pay for 3900 pages of paper when it could all be digital.
It's a farce and that should be the story, Daniel.

This is actually a good solution, and a green one that I'm sure the Mayor would appreciate. Rather than having the document photocopied have staff scan the contracts and reports using their xerox machines. Put the pdf files on a flash drive and voila! I've done this at work and it took the xerox machine less than 5 minutes to scan a 100+ page contract into a pdf file.

rf, what the hell do tech support desks have to do with finance department work? These docs would have to be pulled and collated by finance and accountant staff, not IT.

I can think of hundreds of better ways the city can spend its money than to satisfy this childish request without adequate charge. It is completely NORMAL for governments to charge for FOI docs. In most cases, they charge much more than this, and make you wait for months, or even years for the processing to take place.

The city declared it wants to be more open, not turn themselves into a bunch of suckers that let themselves get pushed around by every hack blogger who has an agenda against them, asking the taxpayers to cough up money to do so.

Last time I checked, the city is making cuts.

Oh, by the way, I do agree that their charge is incredibly high for photocopies. The City of Toronto only charges .20c per page.


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