(WINDSOR, ON) – Parking was not at a premium when The Square attended a press conference called by the Downtown Business Improvement Association this afternoon. Held at the corner of Pelissier Street and Park Street, the president of the DWBIA, Larry Horwitz revealed that the organization would be pursuing the request for information from the city regarding the Pelissier parking garage.
The DWBIA filed an FOI request with the city requesting email and text messages, notes, and records between members of the city’s administrators and members of City Council pertaining to the decision to convert retail space in the garage to parking spaces. The city responded with an estimate of $13,672.20 to produce the records, since lowered to $11,266.
“This is a city that should be transparent. This is a city that should be accountable,” said Horwitz. “The taxpayers pay the salaries and we have to know the facts to make it better, to move forward, and have faith in our city and know we’re going in the right direction.”
A GoFundMe campaign was launched to seek donations to pay for the documents and raised in excess of $4,000. The Board of the DWBIA has decided to augment the donated funds with a budgetary surplus to meet the targeted amount.
“Close to half of (the donations) are from people who would be very disappointed if we didn’t move forward,” said Horwitz. “They’ve given their hard earned money and they didn’t have to. The board of directors felt we would disappoint them, we would disappoint residents, we would disappoint the community if we didn’t move forward on what we already started.”
However, the city is now denying that the required search and detailed review of the documents has taken place and suggesting that administrators may decide to sever up to 75 per cent of the files from the request.
“We have to have accountability. We have to understand the process. And, the citizens of Windsor feel that need.” Horwitz said. “Why is the city severing up to 75 per cent of all the information? Why are they dragging their heels? Why are they taking so long to release the information? If they do release the information in the end. Hopefully they have nothing to hide.”
The city is relying on sections 7, 10, and 14 of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to possibly deny providing the information. Those sections pertain to advice or recommendations, third party information, and personal privacy, respectively, however each section has exceptions.