Opinion| City’s Freedom of Information Practice an Obvious Diversion and Discouragement

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IN WRITING ABOUT the screw-up of the lane configuration at Albert and East Streets, I have also received comments that the same thing is happening at Bay and Queen, with the two lanes of traffic from Bay splitting into separate routes.

Where the two lanes of traffic from Albert now has only one leading to eastbound Wellington, making for some pretty heady jockeying after Greyhound games, the same apparently occurs at the other intersection with one lane sending traffic north on Church Street, the other east on Queen.

To answer the question as to why I have not addressed that intersection as I have Albert and East Streets, I can only say this:

The new configuration at the intersection of Bay and Queen Streets was engineered this way by the city to provide bicycle routes on Queen Street. People knew it was coming.

The new configuration at Albert and East Streets had no warning. It was simply a done deal.

It came about because the line-painting crew for some unknown reason did not follow the lines that were laid down but created new ones.

It was a mistake and the city, also for some unknown reason, decided to live with it instead of ordering a correction, the sensible solution.

As those of you who will have read my column last week will know, the city did decide to go to some traffic experts, CIMA+, for confirmation of its decision, and it got it.

But as you will also know, it was on flawed information, CIMA+ getting only a drawing of the Albert-East intersection rather than one encapsulating East and Wellington Streets to show traffic flow through the area, that CIMA+ made its decision.

Also, since there was no written response from CIMA+, just a drawing in return, I find even that suspect.

CIMA+ does not speak with third parties about a project so it is not speaking with me, but I took the liberty of sending along some new information.

I took the drawing the city traffic people sent CIMA+, which shows only the Albert-East intersection, and extended it to take in the East-Wellington intersection to show how traffic previously flowed so seamlessly through the area.

I suggested to Brian Malone, my contact there, that although CIMA+ may not want to talk with me, it might want to ask the city why it only provided it with half the story.

If it doesn’t do this, then I would consider it as derelict as the city.

I got the illustration, which in the scheme of things here apparently passes as a report, CIMA+ sent to the city only through the assistance of the mayor. I only got what the city had originally sent CIMA+ through a Freedom of Information request.

So much for transparency.

Larry Girardi, deputy chief administrative officer public works and engineering services, said in an email that, “In reference to signage, we have been communicating with CIMA+ the delay in the removal of the yield signal and you will see signage changes over the course of the next year.”

Although the signage that is there now is virtually useless, a small sign on a pole and others on the pavement, I hope he isn’t talking about overhead signage as is the case on Bay Street. Because that would probably cost more than having the lines painted to the way they were.

That being the case, which would you choose?

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IN REGARD to transparency, or lack thereof, I also had to go through Freedom of Information for another piece of information regarding city services.

I had emailed Norm Fera, manager of community services, asking about the cancellation of adult skating at the John Rhodes Centre on Tuesday nights and whether the ice time had been given over to hockey.

Fera replied:

“We have reviewed our ice allocations this season and made adjustments so that we could maximize the use of the available ice time to all user groups.  The public skating hour is still available from 8-9 pm on Tuesdays.

“We continue to have a full adult skating program available at the John Rhodes on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 12 pm-2 pm. We also added an afternoon public skating program at the McMeeken Centre last season on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays from 12 pm-2 pm that is primarily used by adult skaters.”

As he didn’t answer my question as to whether the ice time was going to hockey, I asked again and also asked who was getting it.

Fera’s reply:

“The ice time has been rented to an ice hockey user group.  If you require specific Information on which user, a Freedom of Information request is required.”

I went that route, more on principle than anything as I already had the information that the only nighttime hour of adult skating had been given over to hockey, and found that it was given to the Sault Major Hockey Association.

I think it is ridiculous that to receive information such as this and that surrounding the city’s misguided handling of the traffic flow at the Albert-East and East-Wellington intersections I have to go through Freedom of Information.

If it so readily available through that route, why isn’t it simply available?

This way it is just an irritation to me and some added work for legal staff who, I should mention, got the information to me quickly.

Doug Millroy can be reached at dmillroy@gmail.com.

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