Learn about your options for obtaining information from the City of Surrey, including how to submit freedom of information (FOI) requests. 

Freedom of Information Requests Overview

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request is a formal process to ask for copies of personal records about yourself or someone you are responsible for. It is also a way to access general records (which are not personal in nature) that could be released, in whole or in part, to anyone.

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the 'Act') provides specific information and privacy rights regarding information that is collected or controlled by public bodies in British Columbia. The Act is not intended to replace existing means of obtaining information.

Information is routinely available to the public. Occasionally, a review is required, or a coordinated effort is needed to gather information for release.

Timeframe

Legislation allows 30 business days to complete a request, but many requests are completed sooner. There are occasions where your request may take longer than 30 days. The Act does allow, in certain cases, for the 30-day time period to be extended.

Additional fees

Section 75 of the Act permits the City of Surrey to charge an additional fee for locating, retrieving, producing, and preparing the record for disclosure. Depending on the nature of your request, there may be additional fees. We will provide you with an estimate if your request may result in fees.

There is no fee for the first 3 hours spent locating and retrieving a record, or time spent severing information from a record.

Start Your Search with an Informal Request

Before you make a formal FOI request, try contacting the department(s) within the City that may have the information you are seeking.

Some departments release routine information and are authorized by the Surrey Fee-Setting Bylaw and/or Building Bylaw to charge a fee. You will be advised whether or not a formal request is needed, and the department may be able to assist you with the wording of your request so that the information can be easily researched.

Information you can receive through an informal request with front line staff includes:

  • answers to questions related to departmental operations;
  • open agendas, open minutes, bylaws; and
  • certain property related information, publications, policies and procedures.

You can review the Routine Releasable Catalogue for some examples of records that are routinely available.

Informal Request Contacts

If you are unsure of what department your request should be directed to, please call our main switchboard at 604-591-4011 or email clerks@surrey.ca for assistance.

Requests for Surrey Fire Service records must be requested directly from the Fire Department. You can request reports for Motor Vehicle Incidents, Motor Vehicle Fires, Structure Fires, Medical Incidents or Other Incidents. Incident Questionnaires and Dispatch Tape Recordings may also be requested.

See how to request CCTV (closed-circuit television) such as recordings or images from our facilities.

Law enforcement facility CCTV requests

For law enforcement officials. Complete a Law Enforcement Records Request Form and send it to securityaccess@surrey.ca.

Public facility CCTV requests

For everyone else. Submit an official FOI request through the online portal.


Before submitting a request

  • We cannot guarantee we have the video you want.
  • Video from facility CCTV is automatically deleted after 30 days and is unrecoverable.
  • Our analysts review requests to prevent the disclosure of sensitive or personal information.

Video quality

  • Video quality will vary.
  • Pixelation, or artifacts, are caused by file compression and brief interruptions in data communications during recording.
  • These artifacts cannot be corrected once they are recorded.

Consent from a third party in a video

  • The City adheres to Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) requirements before disclosing video footage.
  • When a video potentially contains identifiable personal information, we require consent to disclosure forms for all affected individuals whose movements are visible in the video.
  • Once forms are received, we can analyze the footage to protect privacy.

Blurred or withheld video

Sometimes we need to blur or withhold videos to comply with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

We will sever images from the footage by blurring them to remove personal information if the video consists of:

  • images of identifiable individuals, including their faces and their movements; and
  • these individuals have not consented to the release of their personal information to you; and,
  • the disclosure of their personal information would be an unreasonable invasion of their personal privacy.

There may be a fee to provide blurred footage.

In some cases, we withhold footage in its entirety if the images of the identifiable individuals cannot reasonably be severed from the footage.

Law Enforcement officials or members of the public requesting traffic CCTV video from the City must submit a request online.

How to Make a Formal Request

If the department you contact is unable to provide information, you may file a formal request for the records you are seeking. A formal request for recorded information is a formal process to access records that are not routinely available (as noted above).

1. Make a formal FOI request

If you require a formal request for information, you need to submit your request online. Keep your request clear, concise and focused in order to reduce processing time and possible fees.

Submit Your Formal FOI Request Online

 2. Review and acknowledgment

Your request will be reviewed to determine whether the information you are seeking is routinely available, or if further searching, compiling and review is required. We will contact you within 3 business days to confirm your request, provide you with a file number, and to advise of any delays we expect.

The Act allows a maximum of 30 business days for us to respond to your request; we will respond sooner if possible.

You should also be aware that the Act does allow, in certain cases, for the 30-day time period to be extended and for fees to be charged.  We will notify you as soon as possible if there is a need to extend the time limit for responding to your request or to charge fees.

3. Gathering of information

Once your request is received, we will contact the appropriate City Departments to retrieve the records you are seeking. Your identity is kept confidential throughout the process.

You will be advised if there is a large quantity of records, and/or if there is likely to be a fee associated with your information request.

4. Reviewing of information

We will review the information for completeness and privacy concerns. If there is information that we cannot provide, we will remove that information from the document and mark it with the relevant section(s) of the Act to explain why it has been withheld.

5. Fees

Your formal request may be subject to the fees listed in Schedule A of the Surrey Freedom of Information Bylaw No. 13662. We will provide you with an estimate if it appears that your request may result in fees.

6. Releasing of information

We prepare your information release and send it to you by email secured link (preferred), mail, or advise you that it is ready to be picked up.

7. Addressing concerns

If you are not satisfied with the response to your request, we recommend you first contact us to address your concerns. Submit your complaint in writing to inforequest@surrey.ca.  Provide as much detail as you can to assist in understanding the nature of your complaint. It may take at least 30 business days to respond.

8. How to file a complaint

Sometimes a request for information is subject to exceptions under the Act. If you are not satisfied with our response to your request you may contact the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia.

The Commissioner is an independent Officer of the Legislature of British Columbia who monitors how public bodies respond to your requests for access to information and how they protect the privacy of your personal information.

The Commissioner ensures that your rights under the Act are protected and that disputes are resolved in a fair and unbiased manner.

Contact

Phone 604-591-4132 or email inforequest@surrey.ca for more information.