Council committee seeks new policy to deal with FOIP requests

Getting information from the city about anything from paving back alleys to tax rates may soon get easier.

Proposal to sell river valley land for 80-storey highrise back before council in two weeks

A city council committee wants a new policy to deal with Freedom of Information requests. (CBC)

Getting information from the city about anything from paving back alleys to tax rates may soon get easier.

Executive committee decided Tuesday to ask administration to prepare a new policy to disclose memos sent to city council.

It also wants a "sunset clause" included in the policy to deal with any documents not released under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Under the new policy, when the reason for not disclosing the documents no longer exists, the city will release the information.

Troy Pavlek, 22, said he has been frustrated with FOIP requests he has made at city hall.

"The whole situation has been miscommunication from the top to the bottom," said the software developer, who plans to run for a council seat in the October municipal election, 

Troy Pavlek says he has had trouble in the past with FOIP requests made at city hall. (Supplied)

Mayor Don Iveson said the city needs to do better.

"The city needs to be as accommodating and concierge-like as possible when dealing with FOIP requests," he said.

The vast majority of requests, he said, are dealt with to the satisfaction of the applicant.

The city's default position should be to disclose information whenever and wherever possible, the mayor said.

"We have to have a really good reason not to disclose, and that's something that we should regularly review and carefully scrutinize each time something comes before council in private, and also as part of the motion."

The city plans by March to include all memos to council as part of an easily searchable catalogue.

Proposal to sell land for highrise delayed

A proposal to sell a parcel of river valley land along Jasper Avenue to make way for an 80 storey highrise has been delayed.

Plans for the Quarters Hotel and Residences include a hotel, condominiums, restaurants, fitness facilities and shops stretching over 100,000 square feet.

Several amendments to the land-use bylaw would have to be made for the project to be approved, including removing a portion of the site from the North Saskatchewan River Valley Area Redevelopment Plan.

Mayor Don Iveson proposed holding off the discussion because of new information that emerged about the project after a meeting Monday between staff and the developer.

City staff needed more than 12 hours to write the report for executive committee, he said.

"Interested members of the public who wanted to speak to it today will actually be able to react to something public at the next meeting, which is preferable," Iveson said Tuesday.

The mayor said he has questions about the project, including what public access would look like and what the city's responsibility would for long-term maintenance.

He said he's not worried the land sale could set a precedent for more river valley land to be sold in the future.

"This is a unique circumstance," Iveson said. "This is between an existing private parcel of land and the Shaw [Conference Centre], and the lands in question are not usable as a park. I think this is very much in the minds of many councillors a one-off circumstance that you wouldn't find necessarily very often in the river valley."

The report on the land sale will come back to executive committee on Feb.14.