Freedom of Information needs to earn its name / by Tim Querengesser

On June 12, I filed a Freedom of Information request with the City of Edmonton as part of a story I'm working on. 

Under the Act, which came into force in 1995, the city has 30 days to respond to a Freedom of Information request. The city did this – only to tell me there was going to be a delay for an unspecified period. The staff that oversee these requests to the city have been mildly pushing to find a way to get me the public information I have requested. They have suggested ways to streamline the language of my request and reduce the people identified in it in order to shrink the amount that's caught in the inevitable net. They have been helpful, if requiring me to keep checking in on something that, ostensibly, they're supposed to be getting to me on a deadline. 

 Flickr/IQRemix 

Flickr/IQRemix 

Still, none of this has resulted in documents in my hands or even a firm date of when I can expect my information request to be honoured. This means today, August 23, is 71 days since the request was filed and 41 days beyond the timelines the Act spells out as its target response times.

It's a convoluted and incredibly time-consuming process to do much about this, like file a complaint. And given the discussion about Freedom of Information with the city, it's something we need to discuss fulsomely.