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Regina Bypass Bypassing Transparency?

July 16, 2014
Regina Bypass Bypassing Transparency?

Some taxpayers in Saskatchewan have suggested to us that the government’s decision for the layout of the Regina bypass will cost millions more than necessary.

Unfortunately, investigating their claim is easier said than done.

Consider what we’ve asked the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure for through the Freedom of Information Act, and the Ministry’s response:

______________________________________________________________

Information Requested

 

Government Response

 

PowerPoint presentations used to brief the Minister on the bypass proposal since January 1, 2012

 

Confidential

 

All briefing notes provided to the Minister since January 1, 2013 on the proposal(s)

 

Confidential

 

Meeting minutes from the Tower Road Steering Committee meetings

 

The documents don’t exist with Highways and Infrastructure Ministry

 

Studies on potential accidents from proposed configuration

 

The documents don’t exist with Highways and Infrastructure Ministry

 

Analysis on property/school tax impact with current proposal   The documents don’t exist with Highways and Infrastructure Ministry

 

Cost to date on studies and expenses related to the bypass project over the last five years

 

The Ministry estimated we would have to pay $4,499.68 to get the information

 

Any traffic studies within the past two years related to the bypass

 

The Ministry estimated we would have to pay $3,319.36 to get the information

 

Copies of proposals for alternative bypass locations provided by stakeholders along highway one or Tower Road

 

The Ministry estimated we would have to pay $822.16 to get the information

______________________________________________________________

How on earth are PowerPoint documents for a road project confidential? Or say briefing notes on the matter? After all, we’re not talking about secret military operations manuals or documents pertaining to confidential police briefings.

No, we’re talking about a roadway project. At the very least the Ministry should release the documents, black out what they consider to be confidential and then explain why. We could then contest anything we disagreed with by contacting the Information Commissioner (who can only ask nicely for governments to release the info, but at least it's a start.)

To be clear, we’re not calling the idea of building a bypass a waste of money. Building roads, bypasses, bridges and other core infrastructure is one of the prime reasons we all pay taxes.

At this point we’re just trying to learn more about the government’s rationale for how it came to decide on the configuration it chose. Once we learn more about the province's rationale and analysis on other options, then we can weigh the government's justification with claims we're hearing that the layout costs more than necessary.

Fortunately, it looks as though some additional information should be forthcoming from the government (without a charge to the CTF). That's good news...especially as straightforward transparency on this issue seems to have been bypassed to date.

To view some of the government’s responses mentioned above – click here
To view a listing of our information requests – click here
To view the government’s fee estimates – click here (cross reference with link above)

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