A motion by Rocky View County (RVC) councillor Jerry Arshinoff to remove information barriers was shot down in flames, July 11.

Throughout the meeting, the division 2 councillor questioned why all information is not at the disposal of the public, or even councilllors themselves, on applications being reviewed. In the end, he introduced a motion to make all documents from all stages of any applications available to the public upon request without having to go through the Freedom on Information and Protection of Privacy (FIOPP) procedure and was unable to garner support from a single councillor.

Many councillors supported the spirit of the motion but felt it was too broad sweeping and would be best to present either as a notice of motion, researched further or left with administration to pursue.

"I agree with the premise of the idea, but not the motion," said division 4 councillor Rolly Ashdown. "It's far too broad reaching and it doesn't give any accurate direction to anyone."

"You have to think it through a little bit. After this motion I'll move that everybody be good guys all the time," he continued.

RVC Legislature and Legal Services manager Angie Keibel recommended council not support the motion because it was too broad and may not align with the FIOP Act, which would take precedence. She said access to information was something administration had already started to examine and they would be coming back to council with a report.

That approach was appealing to most councillors.

"I'm more comfortable with what the staff is doing because I have some proposed amendmends to this, but I trust them to report back ot us. I think it does have to be addressed," said Div. 9 councillor Bruce Kendall.

Councillor Margaret Bahcheli said it was odd the county doesn't release anything unless it goes through FIOP and suggested they've gone too far. But she also recognized some documents need to remain confidential.

Div. 1 councillor Liz Breakey agreed the information should be easier to obtain but cautioned some people may do so simply to harass the county.

Arshinoff says he has been troubled by the information barriers erected by RVC even before he was elected 3 1/2 years ago. He appreciates some details must remain confidential, such as specific financial details, but believes that makes up only a minut portion of the documents of any given application.

Arshinoff says, "I'm not necessarily insinuating there is anything wrong, but why would such details not be made available? Firstly, they should be made available to the public, but they aren't even available to the councillors. Why not?"

He said he personally battled the same issue a few years ago when attempting to get details on the Bingham Crossing development planned for Springbank.

"After a prolonged set of negotiations we were allowed to see some of the details and we only had a few hours to go through quite few books that were very long and had only enough time to pick through it to see if there was anything we wanted to explore further."

RVC Reeve Greg Boehlke says Arshinoff's statement plays to the coffee shop crowd.

"They'll say they're afraid to let it out to the public and they don't want anybody looking at it, and it's all a secret and it's a conspiracy, when in fact there is nothing. We have to be completely transparent, but we also have to protect the rights of others."

No time line was provided for completion of the review by administration.