City withholds fan zone info until after election

Fan zone attendees contributed to Stanley Cup riot

The City of Vancouver is refusing to release key records about the Stanley Cup fan zone until at least three days after the Nov. 19 civic election.

On June 17, a Freedom of Information request was filed for a business case for the fan zone, which was trashed in the June 15 hockey riot. The request asked for a list of suppliers and payments and copies of contracts, including one with Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster BC TV.

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On Aug. 2, the city postponed its response until Sept. 14, citing a "large number" of records to be searched and consultation with an unnamed thirdparty or other public body. A Sept. 8 letter from FOI manager Barbara Van Fraassen said the city was required to give a third party until Oct. 11 to respond. Van Fraassen's Oct. 21 letter said the third party has until Nov. 21 to request a review by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. "The records will be released to you on Nov. 22, unless we receive notification of a review on this file," Van Fraassen wrote.

At a Sept. 1 news conference, Mayor Gregor Robertson was challenged by a reporter about whether riot-related FOI requests would be fulfilled before his Vision Vancouver party seeks re-election. "I expect those will be much sooner than before the election," Robertson said. "I expect those FOIs to all be released very soon."

Over two weeks in September, the city dumped hundreds of pages of information online in three phases, but not those related to the June 17 request. When he was sworn in as mayor on Dec. 8, 2008, Robertson promised to "ensure transparency" at city hall. "When the city uses your money, you have a right to know where it's being spent, and what it's being used for," Robertson said in his speech. "When leaders fall short of that standard, public confidence is shaken."

But after the Oct. 30 mayoral debate in Chinatown, Robertson said "I don't manage the details of our FOI office."

"It is important that that is not political," he told the Courier. "We do have an extraordinary number of requests, the number of requests has gone up dramatically. Improvements have been made to open up the process and increase the flow of information from city hall."

City hall spokeswoman Wendy Stewart was asked Tuesday for the FOI office's annual budget and statistics on requests received and information released. She said Thursday that "staff are getting the information."

NPA mayoral candidate Coun. Suzanne Anton has blasted Vision Vancouver for turning city hall into a "sealed fortress" since taking power. In August, Brand Live Group senior vice-president Paul Runnals told the Courier his company was hired two days before the start of the Stanley Cup finals to manage the fan zone. He said Fresh Air Cinema sourced screens from Impact Video and he confirmed Super Save fencing and Pit Stop porta-potties were used. Concord Security was also hired.

Fan zone supplier contracts were not included in a report published Aug. 17 on the city's Supply Management website. In 2010, the city spent $2.2 million on 32 no-bid contracts. The city reported in September that it spent $1,501,908 on the fan zone, including $28,191 on porta-potties and $25,756 to repair damaged screens. In response to a separate FOI request, the city disclosed that it paid $114,218.28 to Pit Stop from April 1 to July 31, including $22,907.36 for "portable toilets June 215/11 (Stanley Cup)."

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