ERIN – Council here has adopted a routine disclosure policy in order to increase public, council and staff awareness of the types of information that can be requested and routinely disclosed without a formal request.
At a June 15 meeting, council received a report from the corporate services department regarding a proposed bylaw for a routine disclosure policy.
Town officials say the policy will streamline access to information, reduce staff time and enhance customer service as response times will be quicker for residents.
As part of the 2021 budget process, open government initiatives were identified as a strategic priority for 2021. The routine disclosure policy was the first task taken on by town staff.
“The implementation of this policy will substantially increase efficiency and customer service for requests and facilitate the town’s commitment to open government practices,” the report states.
The policy requires the completion of a request form. If staff decides the request meets the requirements for routine disclosure, they will provide information no later than 10 days after submission.
Any staff time exceeding one hour of work will result in a charge of $25 per hour. Charges will also be applied for photocopies.
The policy will be reviewed after a year to determine if it requires refining. After that, it will be reviewed every two years as part of a routine policy review.
“I think it’s a great initiative,” said councillor Michael Robins.
“Not only will it make things more efficient, but I think what it does is makes it really clear to applicants and the people of Erin as to what they can and cannot have access to in advance.
“To me it is helping to inform and educate, which I think is an important element of the whole disclosure issue. I think it’s a great step forward.”
Councillor John Brennan agreed, saying, “I would echo that. I think this is a good step forward for the relationships with the public and to let the public know what we can and can’t disclose with more clarity.”
The town website’s legislative services page will be updated to provide the public with more information on the formal access request process in addition to routine disclosure.