Frequently Asked Questions about Information Requests

1. 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;

The Act covers access to records and the information contained therein, however 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 and interpretation of any records received from the Town.

2. How do I make a request?

There are two ways to request information from the Town of View Royal:

Informal Requests
The information you want may already be publicly available. Aways start by making an informal request by contacting the department that you think might have the information you are looking for.
Click here for contact information

Formal FOI Requests
If a department cannot or will not release the information you are looking for, you may submit a formal FOI request for records.

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

For more information, see Make a Freedom of Information Request.

3. Is there a fee to process my request?

Informal Requests
When you make an informal request for information, the department that has the information may charge you a fee to cover its costs in processing your request. Departments charge in accordance with our Fees and Charges Bylaw - Schedule A [PDF - 271 KB].

Formal FOI Requests
We may charge you fees to cover the cost of processing your FOI request. We will not charge you fees for access to your own personal information or for the first three hours spent searching for and retrieving the records.

Our FOI fees are charged in accordance with our Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bylaw 217.

4. 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 the scope of your request is broad, or if there are a large volume of responsive records, we may extend the time limit for responding under Section 10 of the Act for an additional 30 business days. For particularly large and difficult requests, we may apply to the Information & Privacy Commissioner for an additional time extension.

The majority of requests are processed within 30 business days of us receiving your request.

5. Will I get everything that I ask for?

Depending on what you ask for, you may not get access to all information contained within the records that respond to your request.

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 Town's FOI Head based on the relevant circumstances surrounding the request.

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

  • personal privacy;
  • businesses trade secrets or unit pricing;
  • solicitor-client privilege;
  • deliberations of Council and Council 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 Town or other public body.

If you do not receive 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 Town responds to your FOI request, you have the right to ask the Information & Privacy Commissioner to review the Town's response (see link below).

6. 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 Town of View Royal, their personal information is protected and is not made public.

We only collect personal information when we have the clear authority to do so, or when the collection is related directly to and is necessary for an operating program. When we collect 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 other ways, but only if we have legal authority to do so. The Town protects personal information from unauthorized use or disclosure.

For example, if you make a bylaw enforcement complaint, the Town asks 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.

7. Where can I find more information about FOI?