Ed and Darlene Sutton have been upset at the speed bump installed on Fourth Street near the village office since its installation a year and a half ago.
Driving a sub compact car, they found the vehicle bottomed out when driving over it. They couldn’t understand why council opted for a speed bump over four way signage at the nearby corner of Veterans Avenue and Fourth, and approached council about the issue last fall.
Following their delegation at the council meeting, the Suttons followed up with a request to set aside funds in the 2011 budget to allow for removal of the bump. Darlene also put in a request with the village office that read:
“Pursuant to the request we made regarding having the speed bump removed from Fourth Street, we would like any and all correspondence …letters… meeting minutes (only related to the reasoning for the speed bump) from:
– Public works regarding their decision for putting in the speed bump
– Village of Keremeos council meetings
– President of the triathlon club
– Any other correspondence that actually complains about excessive speed or safety on Fourth Street.
The village compiled the information for the Suttons, which cost them $230.10. The charges were based on the fact that village staff had to spend several hours beyond an initial three hours to source out the information.
“We paid in good faith, thinking we were getting the requested information,” Darlene said.
But after going through the 50 -plus pages of information, they were dismayed to find that much of it was either repetitive, or had little or next to nothing to do with the singular decision as to the placement of a speed bump on Fourth Street. The additional charges amounted to 10. 67 hours of staff work to accumulate the information.
“CAO Joni Heinrich knew that there wasn’t any mention of a speed bump on that street until the August council meeting meaning that further search for the other information was a waste of time – and our money,” Darlene said.
Pages of the information sourced by the village included such things as;
– criteria regarding Spirit Squares projects.
– a discussion regarding a speed bump near Pine Park.
– a village ad requesting ideas for upgrades to Memorial Park, which was repeated.
– letter outlining ideas for upgrades.
– the Keremeos Transportation Plan ( a consultant’s report, completed two years ago).
– full reports of council meeting information with brief mention of Fourth Street issues.
– pages of what appears to be duplicated information, some of which dated back several years.
The Suttons approached the village about getting a refund, but were refused. They were told to request a refund through the Privacy Commissioner, which they have since done.
“We followed Freedom of Information Act guidelines when we sourced the information for the Suttons,” Keremeos Village CAO Joni Heinrich responded. “We have received notification of the complaint, and we are now waiting to hear from the commission as to how we are to respond.”
Heinrich said the FOI had a process which the village was obliged to follow.
“We feel this is just another way of saying to us, ‘Don’t question our authority to put in a speed bump because if you do, we’ll make you pay for it,’” Darlene said.
“We are of the opinion that any taxpayer should be allowed to question the village and council and not be punished for doing so,” she added. “It’s not the money – it’s the principle of it.”