The BC government is facing new criticism of its access to information system, this time linked to the death of a woman picking blueberries in Pitt Meadows.
Ping “Amy” Guo was found dead at Pitt Meadows Farm on August 15. At the time, concerns were expressed that she might have been killed by an animal, potentially a black bear.
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Officers from the BC Conservation Officer Service, including specialists from the predator attack team, were present and remained in the area for several days.
Now some local residents say they believe conservation officers may have killed several bears in connection with the attack, but have been unable to get a response from the province.
Ellie Lamb told Global News there were a number of bears that frequented the area, including a mother and cubs, which later disappeared.
“They are worried because they knew these bears very well, and like I said, they are no longer there. They don’t see them anywhere,” she said.
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The residents filed a freedom of information request, costing hundreds of dollars, which Lamb said came back heavily redacted.
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“They got nothing in return,” Lamb said. “One person recently received 270 blank pages, saying to keep in touch, so no information was given as to what happened to the missing bears.
Last week, Guo’s family filed their own lawsuit against the farm and town of Pitt Meadows, alleging a dog was likely responsible for his death.
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The lawsuit claims the farm was negligent for failing to ensure the property was safe for visitors and for failing to warn Guo of the potential presence of dangerous animals. None of the allegations have been tested in court.
The BC Conservation Officer Service will only say that because the death is under police investigation, he cannot comment.
Lamb said the lack of information from the province is troubling.
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“We’ve been told in the past that this is public information, freedom of information is for the public, there are no secrets, nothing hidden,” she said.
“Obviously we believe that if we need information about a situation that residents are concerned about, we should be able to request freedom of information and get those answers, but that’s not what happened.”
British Columbia’s access to information system has long been criticized for being slow and unresponsive to citizens and the media.
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Last fall, the NDP government faced criticism over changes to the system that will charge applicants a $25 application fee.
Michael McEvoy, British Columbia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, said the fees will make the government less accountable to citizens.
“This legislation will make access to information more difficult,” McEvoy said in October. “It’s public information. They have the right to have this information. »
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