Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

$500,000 and eight years to pull WiseUp info: city

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All he wanted to do was find out what city hall and Winnipeg police had to say about him.

Sounds like a simple request, right?

Instead, traffic activist Todd Dube of WiseUp Winnipeg has been told it will take eight years and approximately $500,000 for the city to fulfil his freedom-of-information request.

It will take that long to compile memos and emails that mention his name and that of WiseUp Winnipeg, the group he co-founded about four years ago to expose what he calls the "devious and predatory tactics" of city traffic enforcement.

The time frame and amount were included in a Dec. 17 four-page letter to Dube from city Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) co-ordinator Colleen Chabot.

"They've invited me to focus it down to something narrower, which I guess I'll do," Dube said Thursday. "However, my opinion is that the documents should be recoverable in much less than 2,920 days."

Winnipeg lawyer and privacy expert Brian Bowman said the eight-year span is the longest he's ever heard.

"That's pretty high," he said. "I'm not aware of any that have been estimated that high."

Bowman said a FIPPA request should be as narrow as possible to ensure an applicant gets the information they want.

"You have a right to get information about yourself and general information," Bowman said.

Dube said the period he asked about ran from 2009 to 2012, the years WiseUp has been active. He's looking at cutting down to just the past two years and focusing his request to Mayor Sam Katz and several police officers in the traffic division.

"I think it would be interesting to see internally what their response was to the loud pro-action that I've initiated," Dube said, explaining why he made the FIPPA request.

He said when he filed his request Nov. 30, he thought it would be reasonably straightforward for emails to be pulled using his name on the search line.

"I can search mine in a few seconds."

The original requested search included the police service, the mayor's office, public works and the city's legal department.

Dube has been a thorn in the side of police, city hall and public works for the past few years as he and WiseUp Winnipeg have rallied against photo enforcement, amber light times they say are too short and improper street signage warning drivers about upcoming intersection speed cameras.

Most recently, his group abandoned a court challenge to the placement of a photo radar camera at Grant Avenue near Nathaniel Street across from Grant Park High School. WiseUp abandoned the case when a magistrate denied their request to further adjourn ito review material supplied by the Crown.

It's also not the first time Dube has been stymied in his freedom-of-information requests to the city. "I think I have four or five appeals to the Ombudsman," he said.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 22, 2012 A5

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