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Right to know lease cost denied

Thank you to so many who wrote to me to express interest about my appeal to the Information and Privacy Commissioner to shed light on what happened with the Boardwalk Cafe lease.  The results are quite stunning and worthy of a small follow up.

I have tried for months to get public disclosure of the real cost to taxpayers of breaking the Boardwalk Cafe lease. It was provided to city council in October 2010 as a legal opinion from the city solicitor.  That opinion – according to the media – was supposedly delivered to city council after the October 2010 election. But nobody had seen it. Nobody knows the cost of breaking this lease. On April 5, however, my appeal was dismissed by the Information and Privacy Commissioner. Access to the information was denied. Why?

In her 12-page decision, the adjudicator wrote, “… I accept the city’s arguments that the matter is of some sensitivity to the city …”

But even stranger, the ruling reveals that there was no opinion given to council after the October 2010 election. It doesn’t exist. It was a previous opinion from June 2010. That is hardly consistent with the comments made in the media in October 2010.

The adjudicator further dismissed the argument that there is a public interest in the matter.

In sum, it has now been ruled that the matter is too “sensitive” for public disclosure. It has also been established that there was no new opinion given in October 2010 about the costs of breaking the lease.

So bigger questions now arise: how and why did council debate the approval or rejection of the Boardwalk lease without apparently knowing the costs of breaking the lease? And why can’t taxpayers know those costs if they were provided? What harm could there be? One has to question why residents are denied access to information of this nature.

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