The Cape Breton Regional Municipality has told an anonymous person seeking extensive information about Sydney port development that it does not have many of the documents requested.
The CBRM said much of the information sought is under the jurisdiction of private entities that are not in the CBRM's custody or control. The municipality told the man in November that his request would cost almost $43,000 — 16,000 pages of photocopying and 1,316 hours of work at $30/hr.
The request made in March 2016 pertains to municipal expense claims and contracts related to port development. It's looking at a number of bodies in addition to the CBRM — the Port of Sydney Development Corporation, Harbour Port Development Partners Incorporated (now Sydney Harbour Investment Partners), Business Cape Breton Association and China Communications Construction Company.
The request seeks the details of any contracts between CBRM and those organizations, or between any of the organizations and what money, if any, CBRM is paying them — or receiving from them.
The person seeking the information does not want to be identified, but is represented by Sydney lawyer Guy LaFosse. Last week he received a letter from the CBRM that stated it could not provide information on the Port of Sydney Development Corporation, Business Cape Breton and China Communications Construction Company.
Fee has not changed
Despite not being able to provide information on certain aspects of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) request the original fee remains at $42,804.
In a letter, municipal clerk Deborah Campbell said the fee estimate was based only on the records that are in CBRM's custody or control.
LaFosse said he was surprised it took the CBRM 10 months to communicate that much of the request was not in their custody or control.
"That's contrary to the legislation because all of this should have been provided within 30 days of the application, which is rather puzzling, to say the least, as to why that wasn't complied with," LaFosse said.
"We're talking about significant issues here regarding port development, about expenditures — things that should be disclosed."
LaFosse's client has appealed the $43,000 charge for the information and is waiting for a decision.
Campbell said in an email she cannot discuss the matter because it is an active file with the FOIPOP office.
CBRM spokesperson Christina Lamey said in an email that Mayor Cecil Clarke would not comment because his office is not involved in FOIPOP requests.