Thursday, December 16, 2010

City of Saskatoon denies access to second infrastructure services department Traffic Bridge report

The City of Saskatoon is refusing to release a second administrative report concerning the historic Traffic Bridge under an access to information request made last month.

In a letter dated December 14, 2010, city administration informed that an infrastructure services department report dated November 3, 2010, which was considered at an in-camera meeting of the executive committee, was being withheld in its entirety.

Access to the record is being denied pursuant to sections 15 and 16 of The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The sections relate to documents of a local authority and advice from officials. However, they are discretionary, which means there is nothing stopping the city from disclosing the record if it wanted to.

The city confirmed by email on December 16, 2010, that the closed-door meeting in question was held November 15, 2010.

This follows an earlier decision by the city to refuse access to an administrative report on the Traffic Bridge, dated September 1, 2010, which was tabled at a private meeting of the executive committee on September 7, 2010, for similar reasons.

The city argues that under section 94(2) of The Cities Act, councils and council committees may close all or part of their meetings to the public if the matter to be discussed is within one of the exemptions in Part III of The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The report in question contains advice, recommendations and analyses of the Administration, which is exempt from release in accordance with section 16(1) of the Act.

That may be so, but no one forces Saskatoon city council to operate behind closed doors. It could choose to conduct its affairs in a more open and transparent fashion. But it elects not to, especially on River Landing related items such as this.

By the time the Traffic Bridge debate got to a public meeting of city council for a final decision, the outcome was a formality. What’s at stake is the public trust. Sadly, we’re dealing with a council that doesn’t seem to give a damn about that.

On December 6, 2010, city council voted 8 to 3 in favour of destroying the 103-year-old bridge and replacing it with an insulting replica.

The Traffic Bridge now joins the former Gathercole building (demolished in 2004), the former Legion building (demolished in 2007), and Mendel Art Gallery (moving in 2014), as victims of River Landing.


Post a Comment

<< Home