The City of Windsor's request for nearly $14,000 for documents about the decision to get rid of retail at the Pelissier Street parking garage is "excessive" and a cause for embarrassment, according to Canada's Information Warrior.
Ken Rubin, an Ottawa-based Freedom of Information Act expert, said the Downtown Windsor BIA's plan to crowdfund the cost of their request may not reach its monetary goal, but it may succeed in a different way.
"It's a good way of advertising and embarrassing the city for charging excessive fees for things that the public should have," he said.
BIA chairman Larry Horwitz filed a request for the information following the city's decision to kick store owners out of the garage to make room for more parking. After receiving a quote for $13,672.20 to search for and access relevant documents, he launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover the cost.
Over the past four days more than $2,600 dollars have been donated by 30 people.
Rubin, who has filed more FOI's than he can count, described crowdfunding as an "interesting move," but added there are ways Horwitz could cut down on the city's pricetag.
One option is to break down request by bullet points to find out how much the city wants to answer each part of the request.
"Do you need it all?" he asked. "Are they just piling on everything and the kitchen sink for the sake of doing it?"
Another avenue is negotiating the price. Just because staff say that's how much a search will cost doesn't mean they have the last word.
"It's not like a parking ticket. It's an estimate," said Rubin. "I always say to groups, if they're a BIA or whatever, to 'Fight.' Don't just sit back and say 'Oh, that's what they want.'"