What is the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act?
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FOIPPA”) is a provincial statute which sets rights and responsibilities concerning information which is collected or controlled by a municipality. There are two general principles embodied in FOIPPA:
- You have the right to access records in the custody or under the control of the City of Langley, including your own personal information;
- You have the right of protection of the privacy of your personal information in the custody or under the control of the City of Langley.
What can I request?
You have the right to request any record in the custody or control of the City of Langley. A “record” includes books, documents, maps, drawings, photographs, letters, vouchers, papers and any other thing on which information is recorded or stored by graphic, electronic, techanical or other means, but does not include a computer program or any other mechanism that produces records. FOIPPA establishes a process by which an individual may request access to records held by the City.
Most of the information held by the City is available to the public, such as answers to questions related to departmental operations, agendas, minutes, bylaws, publications, policies and procedures. However the general right of access to information may be restricted by specified and limited exceptions. For example, a person will not get access to closed Council meeting agendas, minutes or materials, someone else’s personal information or information that would harm third party business interests or law enforcement investigations and proceedings. Although, each request is evaluated individually vis-à-vis the provincial legislation, you can view the document below for some general guidelines on what the City can release to you with or without a formal written request.
You may be wondering about the information that the City has about you. The City does not have one big file on each person. Your personal information may be contained in a number of different files. If you believe that we have personal information about you, please contact the department where you think the personal information is located and ask for that information.
How do I make a request?
If you would like to access information in the custody or control of the City of Langley, you can start by making an informal request to the department that you think might have the information you are looking for.
If you are told by that department that the information is not routinely available, then you will have to make a formal request in writing. You can use the following Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Request Form to make your formal request:
You may deliver, mail or fax your FOI request to the following address:
City Clerk – City of Langley
20399 Douglas Crescent
Langley, BC V3A 4B3
What happens once I make a formal written request?
Upon receiving the FOI request, the City has to respond within 30 days to your request. This time period may be extended if your request is complicated. You will be notified by the City about the time extension and the reason for it.
If the City does not have the records that you request, the City will tell you and may be able to direct you to the organization which does have the information. If the City does have the information, it may release all or parts of the information to you. The City may withhold information or parts of the information if the release of the information is an invasion of privacy or cause harm The City must tell you the reasons why it is refusing to release the information to you. The City must also inform you that you have a right to request a review of the decision to withhold information by the Information Privacy Commissioner within 30 days.
Is there a fee to process my FOI request?
The City cannot charge you for access to your own personal information. However, it can charge you for access to non-personal information if it takes more than 3 hours to find or prepare the records for release. It can also charge you for cost of copying and sending the records to you. If the City is going to charge you, then the City will send a fee estimate before processing your request. Depending on the size of the fee estimate, you may be required to send the City a deposit.
The fees are determined by the Schedule of Fees set out by the Province. Commercial applicants are required to pay the actual costs of providing the service. For applicants other than commercial applicants, the fees are:
Task or Item
$7.50 per ¼ hour ($30 per hour)
Locating and retrieving a record after the first three hours
$7.50 per ¼ hour ($30 per hour)
Preparing a record for disclosure and handling a record
$0.25 per page
$0.30 per page
Photocopies (8.5” x 11” or 8.5” x 14”)
Photocopies (11” x 17”)
$5.00 to produce a negative
$12.000 each for 16” x 20”
$9.00 each for 11” x 14”
$4.00 each for 8” x 10”
$3.00 each for 5” x 7”
Photographs (colour or black and white)
Actual costs of shipping method chosen by applicant
This is an incomplete list of the fees charged
In order to keep your fees to a minimum, please narrow your request as much as possible and try to specify a date range. (Please remember that our records go back more than 50 years.)
Is my personal information protected?
FOIPPA places restrictions on the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.
Personal information means recorded information that uniquely identifies you, such as your name, address, telephone number, age, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, disabilities, fingerprints, health care, education, financial, criminal or employment history etc. Only private individuals have personal privacy rights; businesses do not. However, please note that the City can release your name and address in the following circumstance:
- If you send a letter to Mayor and Council;
- If you appear as a delegation before Mayor and Council;
- If you sign a petition which is given to Mayor and Council;
- If you appear before Mayor and Council at a Public Hearing.
The City only collects personal information when there is clear authority to do so or when collecting the information is related directly to and is necessary for an operating program. The City must collect the information directly from you unless the City has legal authority to collect the information from another source.
The personal information that the City collects must only be used for the purpose for which it was collected or for a use which is consistent with the reason why it is collected. The City may also use or disclose personal information in other ways but only if there is legal authority to do so. We do have security measures in place to protect your personal information from unauthorized use or disclosure.
If you think that the City has incorrect personal information about you, such as error or omission, you have the right to request that the City correct the information. Please contact the City Clerk to discuss this request.
What if I do not agree with a decision regarding my request?
You have a right to contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner, if you have been denied access to any record or part of a record, if you are dissatisfied with how your request was handled or if you have concerns about the protection of your personal information.
What does the Information and Privacy Commissioner do?
The Information and Privacy Commissioner (the “Commissioner’) is an officer of the Provincial Legislature who is independent from government. The Commissioner has the authority to investigate matters concerning FOIPPA and make rulings based on the results of those investigations. The Commissioner may review the City’s decisions about a request for records, order the City to release or withhold records, investigate a complaint, require the City to take steps to protect your privacy better, or conduct audits and investigations to ensure compliance with FOIPPA. The Commissioner may review any decision or act relating to a request for records, including decisions to release records, make corrections, time extensions and fees. However, the Commissioner cannot make monetary awards to complainants or penalize the City in other ways.
How do I request a review by the Information and Privacy Commissioner?
You contact the Commissioner’s office within 30 days of receiving the City’s written decision about the records to ask for a review. The Commissioner’s office does not accept requests for review or complaints by e-mail. There is no fee for making a complaint to the Commissioner. The contact information for the Commissioner is:
Office of the Information and Privacy
Commissioner for British Columbia
PO Box 9038, Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, B.C. V8W 9A4
Telephone: (250) 387-5629
For toll-free access call Enquiry BC at (604) 660-2421 and request a transfer to (250) 387-5629:
Facsimile: (250) 387-1696
A Portfolio Officer in the Commissioner’s office has 90 days to investigate and consider your case. The Portfolio Officer has the authority to resolve the dispute between you and the City by mediation. If there is a mediated settlement, then your case is considered resolved. If no settlement is reached, then your case will proceed to a formal inquiry before the Commissioner. At the end of the formal inquiry the Commissioner will issue a written decision called an Order. The Commissioner’s Order is a binding final decision. There is no further appeal process under FOIPPA. You would have to ask the British Columbia Supreme Court to review the Commissioner’s Order but you are responsible for your own legal and administrative costs.