Tuesday, February 9, 2010

ALC - Hopefully the second to last update

In January 2009, I sent a request to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) requesting information about inclusion and exclusion data for the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) in South Fraser communities. At that time, I was told that “the Commission does not have the capacity to provide you with information regarding ALR inclusions and exclusions by municipality.” I knew something was fishy as many of the planners I talked to in Surrey, Delta, and Langley told me that the ALC does provide this type of information. This lead me to filing a Freedom of Information Request in July 2009. In August 2009 the ALC provided me with a breakdown of ALR land by municipality as of October 2008, but wanted $1381 to fulfill my request for specific inclusion/exclusion data for the last 10 years. I wrote the ALC and told them that charging a fee for viewing public decision wasn’t fair. They wrote back and said that I could view the documents in their office, but if I wanted any copies they would charge a fee. I complained to the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia.

Yesterday I heard from the ALC and OIPC that I would be allowed to view the documents at the ALC office and the ALC would waive any fees for copies of decision I request. You can view the letter at our document archive. I was told that I can expect to view the decisions in March. I’m happy that I will be able to complete my research on the ALC, but I find it wrong that it takes one year and four months to get information that I believe should be freely available. I can’t believe people put up with this lack of transparency in our government. In this day and age, there is no reason for this kind of hassle.

One that note, I’m happy to hear that the Township of Langley is working on an e-government project to provide even more information online including podcasts of council meetings.

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