It could be another six months before the Richmond News finds out whether documents related to the construction of the Minoru Centre for Active Living (MCAL) will be made public.
The News requested the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) to conduct an inquiry into whether documents requested by the News about the project construction and its delays should be released after the city initially withheld 3,865 pages of information.
Now that the city and the News have submitted their final arguments in the inquiry process – the city sent its final submission last week - it will take the adjudicator about half a year to make their decision, according to the OIPC.
While the city’s lawyer states the information being withheld falls under “solicitor-client privilege,” the News has argued the city’s refusal to disclose the large quantity of documents is an over-reach and the public has the right to know why the project was so delayed.
FOI request nets little information
When the News initially asked, during construction of the $84-million facility, why it was so far behind schedule, the city said it was because of labour shortages and the weather.
In order to find out more details, the News filed a freedom-of-information (FOI) request with the city in February 2019.
In July 2019, the city responded saying it was withholding virtually all the documents and cited “solicitor client privilege and litigation privilege.”Since the FOI request was filed, the construction contractor Stuart Olson has launched a $7 million lawsuit against the city and the lawyer handling the FOI inquiry referred to a “deteriorating relationship” between the city and the contractor during construction.