Information and privacy
As local government, we are compliant with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which helps promote good city governance by balancing the following principles:
- The public has the right to access government information.
- Whenever possible, information held by the City should be available to the public.
- Individuals have the right to have their personal information protected.
- The City should not improperly collect or disclose personal information.
For more information, explore the Freedom of Information (FOI) and Privacy statement sections below.
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act) applies to all records (i.e. all recorded information) that are under the custody or control of a public body. The Act defines records as follows:
“Record” includes books, documents, maps, drawings, photographs, letters, vouchers, papers and any other thing on which information is recorded or stored by graphic, electronic, mechanical or other means, but doesn’t include a computer program or any other mechanism that produces records.
It’s important to note that the Act covers access to records and the information contained in them. It’s NOT the intention of the Act that staff compile and summarize research in order to answer specific questions. Applicants are expected to conduct their own research based on records received from the City and make their own interpretations.
There are two ways to request information from the City:
Making an informal FOI request via routine channels
Since almost all of the City’s information is available through routine channels, you should always start by making an informal request: contact the department you think might have the information you’re looking for.
Making formal FOI requests
If the information you’re seeking isn’t available through routine channels, you may make an FOI request for records containing the information.
Unlike routine requests, formal FOI requests must be made in writing. Your request must provide sufficient detail to assist staff in locating and retrieving the records.
You may use our FOI Application Form, although it’s not required to make a formal request. You may deliver, mail, or e-mail your FOI request to:
Fees for informal requests
When you make an informal request for information, the department that has the information may charge you a fee to cover its costs in processing your request. Departments charge in accordance with our Fees and Charges Bylaw No. 9381.
Fees for formal FOI requests
We may charge you fees to cover the cost of processing your FOI request. Section 75 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act allows the City to charge applicants fees for costs associated with processing requests to access records under the Act. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bylaw No. 9682 establishes that the maximum fees are those set out in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Regulation Schedule of Maximum Fees. For example, the following fees apply for non-commercial applicants (i.e. private individuals):
- $7.50 per ¼ hour ($30/hour) after the first three hours spent locating, retrieving and producing the requested records
- $7.50 per ¼ hour ($30/hour) to prepare records for disclosure (includes the time spent photocopying and reassembling files)
- $0.25 per page of regular photocopies provided
- Shipping and handling charges (method chosen by applicant)
The Act prohibits public bodies from charging applicants for access to their own personal information. The Act also states that the first three hours spent searching for and retrieving the records is free of charge. If the request includes a large volume of records to be searched, we'll send you a fee estimate before processing your request, which will require you to provide us with a deposit.
To help reduce fees and to minimize taxpayer expense, please narrow the scope of your request as much as possible. Also, you should try to specify a date range as our records date back more than a century.
Responses for informal requests
When you make an informal request, the department you approach will respond to you as quickly as possible. Depending on the kind of information you're requesting, you may be able to get an answer over the phone.
Responses for formal FOI requests
The Act allows us to withhold information if release would be an invasion of privacy or cause harm by one of the means listed in the Act, such as harming a law enforcement investigation or threatening anyone’s health or safety. If the City withholds any information, we'll tell you which section or sections of the Act were used in making this decision.
If we deny you access to any record or part of a record, you have the right to ask for a review by the British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioner, an officer of the legislature who is independent of the government.
The Act requires that we respond to your request within 30 business days of our receipt of your request. We'll make every effort to make the records available to you sooner, if possible.
If your request is broad in scope, or if it includes a large volume of records, we may extend the time limit for responding under Section 10 of the Act for up to an additional 30 business days. For particularly large and difficult requests, we may apply to the British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioner for an additional time extension.
The majority of requests are processed within 30 business days of us receiving your request. In 2020, 83% of requests were responded to within 30 business days.
Depending on what you ask for, you may not get access to all information contained within the records that respond to your request.
The Act includes several specific exemptions to disclosure, which means that, by law, certain types of records and information are to be protected and not made available to the public. Some exemptions are mandatory while others are exercised at the discretion of the FOIPP Head (as defined in our Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bylaw No. 9682) based on the relevant circumstances surrounding the request.
For example, reasons for denying access to information held by the City are generally related to the protection of:
- Personal privacy
- Businesses trade secrets
- Solicitor-client privilege
- Deliberations of Council and Council Committees that are authorized to be held in the absence of the public (i.e. Closed or “in camera” meetings)
- Policy advice, staff recommendations or draft regulations not yet made public
- Information that may harm a law enforcement matter (this includes bylaw enforcement matters)
- Information that may harm the financial interests of the City or other public body
If you don’t get access to all the information you requested, you will be advised of the reasons and the section(s) of the Act on which you have been denied full access. If you’re not satisfied with how the City responds to your FOI request, you have the right to ask the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia to review the City’s response.
The Act protects privacy by restricting the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. Please note that personal privacy rights extend only to private individuals, not businesses, societies, corporations, etc.
When an individual makes an FOI request to the City, their personal information is protected on a "need to know" basis and isn’t made public.
Collection of personal information
We only collect personal information when we have the clear authority to do so, or when the collection is related directly to and is necessary for an operating program. When we’re collecting personal information, we must do so directly from you, unless we have legal authority to collect the information from another source. These rules apply even if the personal information is held by another government body.
Use and disclosure of personal information
The personal information must only be used for the purpose it was collected or for a use consistent with the reason it was collected. The Act permits the use or disclosure of personal information in other ways, but only under very narrow circumstances. We have security arrangements to protect personal information from unauthorized use or disclosure.
For example, if you make a bylaw enforcement complaint, we ask for your personal information (name, address, telephone number) in order for us to keep you informed of our handling of your complaint. As a complainant, your personal information is protected and isn’t made public. The only time that your identity as a complainant would be disclosed to another public body is to comply with Court proceedings.
British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act sets out the access and privacy rights of individuals as they relate to the public sector. FIPPA establishes an individual's right to access records, including access to a person's own "personal information" as well as records in the custody or control of a "public body."
Our privacy statement explains how we use and manage the information that we collect from you, including personal information, as well as your information rights.
Personal information is any information that can be used (either on its own, or when combined with other information) to identify a specific person. For example, name, address, birthdate, medical, financial information and photographs or images of an individual. However, it does not apply to business contact information.
Privacy principles we follow:
- We identify the purpose for collecting personal information
- We collect only what we need
- We protect what we collect
- We provide you access to your personal information
- We dispose of personal information in a secure way (according to records management practices)
We collect different kinds of information from the public in order to conduct City operations and provide services.
Information we collect
We collect information, including, but not limited to:
Your name, contact information and other personal information may be collected when you contact us or in order to deliver City services.
A range of payment options are available for most City services, including online, in-person, mail, and drop boxes. Financial information is only stored for customers and vendors, when provided for payment processing.
Photos and videos may be taken at public events (i.e. Canada Day celebrations) and engagement activities and are used with permission (except for large groups). Digital images are also collected for memberships and security purposes.
Data about water consumption and wastewater generation supports utility billing, leak detection, system improvements, water conservation efforts, and bylaw compliance.
Your name and contact information are collected when you apply for permits and licences. Business contact information provided as part of an application is not considered personal information and may be available to the public. Any personal information contained on a permit or licence is available to the public.
How we get it
When accessing a City service, visiting a facility or responding to a survey, we gather information (i.e. through forms or surveys) to help serve you or get your feedback about City projects and operations. This might include personal details to further assist you and we will never sell or trade this information with anyone else.
When sending an email to a City email address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, we will collect personal information that may be contained in the email message and automatically log certain information about the message, including the sender information, and email address.
We will never initiate a conversation asking for sensitive information (e.g., financial information) from you by email and encourage you to be careful when clicking on links or opening email attachments. Check out the Phishing factsheet on the Government of Canada’s Get Cyber Safe website for more information about increasing your email safety.
Most correspondence to Mayor and Council are public documents once circulated to Council and contact information is removed prior to any release to the public.
We don’t record phone calls*. However, some information gathered during a call might be used to open a service request or to send an email to staff so they can further assist you - in some cases, this will be a voicemail.
*Exceptions: Kelowna International Airport and Fire Department dispatch will record phone calls for security purposes.
We are always looking to improve our website and in order to do this, we gather anonymous data about how people use our website using cookies. The data from cookies helps us make decisions about improvements, including how to make information easier to find and actions easier to complete. Our website cookies don’t collect personal information, just an anonymous identifier and details about website visits.
When you submit correspondence to Council or speak at a public hearing, the correspondence and your name and street becomes part of the official record for that public hearing. Your personal contact information (unit or house number, email or telephone number) will not be released publicly.
The information we collect will only be used for the purpose it was collected, which may include obtaining feedback about the delivery of the service. For instance, we won’t use an email address that you used to login to your Property Account to send you recreation marketing emails (unless you sign up for those as well). Your information will not be disclosed to third parties without your permission, except when it is required by law (as outlined in the Act).
Information that we collect might be used to help us better understand the needs of our community and find ways to improve the way we deliver services. For instance, we might contact people who have recently reported an issue to us online to get feedback on the experience in order to find ways to make it easier, more efficient and enjoyable.
Information is stored electronically or in hard copy and is accessed by authorized City staff, when needed and for the purpose it was collected.
Sharing certain types of data publicly helps increase our transparency as well as improve access to information that the community might be able to use for a variety of purposes, including research and innovation. We remove personal information from our data before publishing it on our open data site.
You can request:
- How and why your personal information was collected and is being used
- To have your information updated or corrected (excluding a change of address or name for tax purposes, which needs to go through BC Assessment).
- A copy of the personal information we have for you
For more information, visit the website for the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner – what are my rights page.
Whenever possible, we will provide details about what information we are collecting, the purpose for collecting it and how to accept or decline to provide information to us. In some cases, if you decline to provide us with the necessary information, we might not be able to provide you with the service (or part of the service) you are requesting.
Questions & inquiries
If you have any questions about this policy or use of your personal information, please contact:
Attention: City Clerk, City of Kelowna
1435 Water Street
Kelowna BC V1Y 1J4
email@example.com | 250-469-8645