Access to Records
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the "Act") extends information and privacy rights to the Municipality of North Cowichan. The principles of the Act are to provide a balance between access and protection:
- the public has the right to access government information
- individuals have the right to have their personal information protected
What does the Act cover?
- all records in North Cowichan's custody and control
Methods to Access Records
REALTORS and/or PROPERTY OWNERS: please contact the Building Department directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to request copies of routinely available or streamlined documents from property files (building permits, occupancy certificates, building plans, building site surveys & survey certificates not registered on title). You will receive these documents in a much more timely manner than requesting them through the formal FOI process.
You may use this flowchart to help determine which process to follow:
1. Routinely Available Records
Much information is handled through the normal release of information, usually by front-line staff (but not personal information). Information provided through routine channels includes answers to general questions related to departmental and governmental operations.
There is a fee for physical copies of Routinely Available Records provided in accordance with the Fees & Charges Bylaw.
Routinely available records include:
*Permit types: Burial, Building & Occupancy, Development, Development Variance, Driveway, Fireworks, Highway Construction, Soil Removal/Deposit, Temporary Use, Temporary Trailer, etc.
2. Streamlined Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests
Where the request is for records related to property you own, or you have written permission from the current property owner to receive copies of the records, Building & Development Services staff can assist in providing these records through an approved streamlined FOI process.
Building Plans may be provided by streamlined FOI process with copyright stamp applied. Interior building plans will only be provided to the current property owner or authorized agent. Building Site Surveys & Survey Certificates (not registered on title) may be provided by streamlined FOI process with copyright stamp applied. Engineering Site Servicing Plans, aka "As-builts" may be provided by streamlined FOI process with copyright stamp applied.
All streamlined FOI requests must still be received in writing (by email or by completing the request form), and the exemptions to disclosure in the Act apply. Photocopy fees are $.25 per b/w page, $1.65 per colour page and $6 per page for plans and maps printed or scanned on the plotter, as set out in the Fees & Charges Bylaw.
Please note: For copies of survey plans and encumbrances (easements, covenants, rights-of-way) registered on title, please contact the BC Land Title & Survey Authority (LTSA). The LTSA has the official records and these are available for purchase by the public through MyLTSA Explorer.
3. Formal Freedom Of Information (FOI) Requests
Formal FOI requests made under the Act provide a method of seeking access to information that is not otherwise available through the routine or streamlined channels. Although our philosophy is to release this government information wherever possible, the Act sets out a series of mandatory and discretionary "exceptions to disclosure" against which the records must be reviewed and upon which North Cowichan’s decision will be based.
An FOI request must be made in writing. You may complete the Request for Access to Records form, email email@example.com or send a letter addressed to the Information Management Division (7030 Trans Canada Highway, Duncan, BC V9L 6A1). The request must be for records in North Cowichan's custody and control and have sufficient detail to assist staff in processing the request.
Please note - formal FOI requests are processed within the 30 business days provided for under the Act, sooner if possible. In order to help facilitate an efficient process, please be sure to first speak to staff in the relevant department to help determine if they can provide the records directly to you (see routinely available and streamlined processes, above) or if a formal FOI request is required.
Our "How do I get answers to property questions?" flowchart provides department contact information, and may help you determine if a formal request is necessary.
The fees set out in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Regulation apply. If there are costs involved in processing the request, you will be provided with a written fee estimate before the application is fully processed. There is no charge for your own personal information.
If you have any questions, please contact the Information Management Division at (250) 746-3187 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.