The city of Waterloo, Canada announced their new website a few months ago, with a sky-high price tag of $384,000, paying far more than comparable sites of other local governments. And that was after removing a whole bunch of information that should be public:
The City of Waterloo chose to restrict access to thousands of pages of public documents when it revamped its website in January — and Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner is calling the move “inadequate and unacceptable.”
Six years of council and committee meeting minutes, agendas and other city reports are now only available upon request.
Initial suggesting that this was due to provincial accessibility legislation requirements, they later gave the real reason:
“It was just such a large amount of (documents) that we decided not to include them on the website,” said Megan Harris, director of communications.
So let’s get this straight. The documents were on the old website, but you just decided not to include them on the new website? I guess that we do need to conserve space on the internet; it’s getting so big after all.
I especially loved this comment by Waterloo CAO Tim Anderson:
“It wasn’t meant to do anything in terms of not providing information to the public,” he said. “If there’s public demand for access to the information I think that is an administrative decision that we can reconsider.”
So basically he’s saying that yes we took the information away, but if enough people ask what the city government is doing, then we’ll think about telling you. It’s kind of simple really. When you take away the information, then you have very clearly made a decision to not provide information to the public. Kind of obvious, right? This action was a clear result of an intentional decision.
This is public information, and he doesn’t get to decide what citizens get to know and what they don’t. There is a law that covers that. And the councillors of Waterloo should be ashamed of themselves for completely failing in their duties to act on behalf of the citizens of Waterloo.