Freedom of Information

British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act applies to public bodies in British Columbia, including local governments.

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is intended to:

  • Make public bodies more accountable by providing the public with access to records whenever possible;
  • Prevent the unauthorized collection, use and disclosure of personal information.

The main principle of the act is that all municipal information should be available to the public, except anything specifically outlined as being exempt under the act.

Public’s Guide to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

Protection of Personal Privacy

The act protects personal privacy by restricting the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.

Please note: Only private individuals have personal privacy rights; businesses do not.

Collection: The RMOW only collects personal information when the municipality has the clear authority to do so or when the collection is related directly to and is necessary for the operation of a program.

Use and Disclosure: Personal information must only be used for the purpose it was collected or for a use consistent with the reason that it was collected. The RMOW may also use or disclose personal information in other ways, but only if the municipality has the legal authority to do so.

How to File an Information Request

Step 1: Make an Informal Information Request Directly to the Department

Before filing a formal FOI request, start by making an informal request.

Contact the department responsible for the content you are looking for. If the information is routinely released, or easily accessed you may receive your records as soon as possible without a formal process or fees.

If you are told that the information is not routinely available, you must make a formal Freedom of Information request (FOI).

Step 2: Make a Formal Freedom of Information (FOI) Request

The criteria for an FOI request:

  • Must be in writing, using the FOI Request for Access to Records Application.
    • Example: If you are representing a person, you must provide the necessary authorization to represent that individual and receive their personal information.
  • Must be made to the correct jurisdiction.
    • Example: If the request is for a Fire Commissioner’s Report for a fire in Whistler, the applicant should submit its request to the Office of the Fire Commissioner, not the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
  • Must be in sufficient detail to assist staff in processing the request.
    • Example: Requesting “all records relating to (subject)…” is too vast and could cover a period of 30+ years of records, including excessive fees and time extensions. Instead, try to narrow down the scope of your request. The FOI Coordinator can help you clearly define the records to search and retrieve the exact documents you are looking for.

Download the FOI Request for Access to Records Application or pick up the form at the front desk of Municipal Hall (4325 Blackcomb Way).

Deliver, mail, fax or email your request with the subject reading “FOI Request” to:

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Coordinator
4325 Blackcomb Way
Whistler, BC, V0N 1B4


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act), you can request access to a record.
  • You cannot ask for a specific question to be answered, only for access to records that you think will hold the answer to your question.
  • Under the Act, it is the responsibility of a local government to provide you with access to records, not to interpret the information for you.
  • The record must be under the custody and control of a public body in order for it to be released through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. “Custody” means having physical possession of a record and “control” means that the local government is the owner of the record and has the right to control it.

If a local government receives a request for records that are under the custody and control of a different public body, the local government may transfer the request to the other public body to respond. This could include situations where the other public body created the record or was the first to obtain the record.

All records within the custody and control of a local government should be disclosed to the public unless a record is specifically outlined as an exception under the act. Some records contain information that shouldn’t be disclosed and as a result the municipality is required or may have the discretion to withhold information.

Exceptions under the act include:

  • Cabinet and local public confidences
  • Policy advice or recommendations
  • Legal advice
  • Disclosures harmful to law enforcement
  • Disclosures harmful to intergovernmental relations or negotiations
  • Disclosure harmful to the financial or economic interests of a public body
  • Disclosure harmful to the conservation of heritage sites
  • Information that will be published or released within 60 days
  • Disclosures harmful to business interests of a third party
  • Disclosures harmful to personal privacy

There may be a fee to process your FOI request.

  • There is an application fee for all non-personal information requests.
  • There are no fees for access to your own personal information or for the first three hours spent searching for and retrieving the records.
  • If there is a fee for your request, you will be provided with a fee estimate before processing your request. A deposit may be required and payment of the full fee is required before staff provide you with the records.
  • Fees are established in Bylaw No. 1088, 1994, and are in accordance with the maximum fees set by the Province.

The fees for non-commercial applicants are:

  • $10 application fee
  • $7.50 per ¼ hour ($30/hour) spent locating, retrieving, and producing the records
  • $0.25 per regular photocopy

To reduce your fees and minimize taxpayer expense, please narrow your request as much as possible.

The act requires the RMOW to respond to your FOI request within 30 business days, not including holidays, of receiving it.

If you are denied to any record or part of a record that you have requested, you have the right to ask for review by the British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioner at:

Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner
P.O. Box 9038, Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, BC V8W 9A4
Tel: 250-387-5629
Fax: 250-387-1696

A decision of the Commissioner is final, but can be subject to judicial review.

The identity and personal information of the FOI requestor is confidential, except to staff required to know the identity of the requestor to process the request.

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