Sunday, October 08, 2006

Letter to Saskatoon City Council regarding Spa Hotel and Site Access to Information Request - October 5, 2006

October 5, 2006

His Worship the Mayor
and Members of City Council
City Hall
Saskatoon, SK S7K 0J5

Dear Mayor Atchison and Members of Council:

Re: Spa Hotel and Site Access to Information Request

“I stand for a responsible, accountable city government…”
(Don Atchison 2003 campaign brochure)

“With all the controversy that has occurred in the south downtown area….We’re attempting to be as open and frank as possible with everyone.”
(Mayor Don Atchison, StarPhoenix March 2, 2004)

“I don’t know how much more public (the process) could be…The question is do we have to go back to the public with every step of the process? I don’t think so.”
(Mayor Don Atchison, StarPhoenix September 21, 2005)

I am writing regarding an Access to Information request I made to the City of Saskatoon on May 1, 2006. It was for all documents and records between June 1, 2004, and December 12, 2005, regarding the proposed spa hotel and site (Parcel “Y”) within River Landing Phase I – with the exception of those records that had been tabled at a public meeting of city council.

In its June 6, 2006, response the city – citing various sections of The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act – listed 81 records that it was unwilling to release. This decision has since been appealed to the Office of the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner for review.

Since October 2003, the executive committee of city council has conducted approximately 22 special closed-door meetings. This is in addition to the committees’ regularly scheduled in-camera meetings. The public has no access to agenda packages or minutes from these meetings, many of which include discussion of the River Landing spa hotel and site.

As a Ward 1 resident I am concerned that city council is conducting so much of its business behind closed-doors. It concerns me further that, at the very least, 81 spa hotel related records are being withheld from the public. Why is this? What is it that the city does not want the public to know about this particular development and the developer involved, Remai Ventures Inc.?

If such information is to be exempt, one of the major purposes of transparency fails, namely, to provide a means of holding the government decision-making process accountable; this simply cannot be done if there is no public access to the documents that government uses to base its decision.

Mayor Don Atchison says that he stands for a city government that is accountable. This depends, though, on whether he and city administration are willing to be held accountable in the first place, which is something I feel has been sorely lacking since the 2003 civic election. Saskatoon deserves better from its elected representatives.

Thank you for your time.


Joe Kuchta
Saskatoon, SK

Letter dated June 6, 2006, from the City of Saskatoon


Ron B. Kocsis
Jim Maddin
Johnny Melenchuk
Mark Dean Weinmeyer
Lenore Swystun
Mark Ewart
Darren Hill
The StarPhoenix


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