Friday, May 18, 2007

River Landing Parcel “Y” secrecy, Saskatoon city manager’s office refuses to release Cameco letter

SP Business editor Murray Lyons reported yesterday that Cameco Corporation would like to put its corporate headquarters downtown, preferably on Parcel “Y” in River Landing Phase I. This was according to a letter that Cameco apparently sent to Saskatoon city council.

In the article Cameco president and CEO Jerry Grandey appeared to downplay the contents of the letter saying it is speculation on other people's part that Cameco will only consider a downtown site if it gets to be on the riverbank land known as Parcel Y, where a previous hotel-spa proposal has been withdrawn.

“We’ve never said that at all. That’s speculation,” Grandey said. “We've just said to the city, ‘Preserve the options. Don't foreclose anything.’

“Whether it’s there or in another location, I'm certainly open minded and willing to talk to anybody.”

As for Cameco’s letter it hasn’t made it to a public meeting of city council. I checked with the city clerk’s office on May 18 to see if they would release a copy. I was advised that the StarPhoenix was mistaken. The letter was addressed to city manager Phil Richards not city council. I called the city manager’s office and asked if I could obtain a copy. I was told that it had been dealt with at an in-camera meeting of the Executive Committee of City Council and that it would not be made public. I was also told that the StarPhoenix did not have a copy of the letter.

The secrecy surrounding Parcel “Y” can be quite disturbing at times. On May 1, 2006, I submitted an Access to Information (ATI) request 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 documents that it was not willing to release. This decision has since been appealed to the Office of the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner for review.

The StarPhoenix is aware of this but has not reported it.

If I were to submit a follow-up ATI request covering December 2005 to present the list would no doubt be a lot longer.

According to Mayor Don Atchison’s webpage he “is committed to a responsible, accountable city government that will work in partnership with the community.”

Just don’t ask too many questions about Parcel “Y” though.


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