VIU Scenery

How to Make a Freedom of Information (FOI) Request


All requests should be submitted on a fully completed Request Form for Access to VIU Records and must be submitted in writing by mail or email to one of:

The Office of the University Secretariat
Vancouver Island University
900 Fifth Street
Nanaimo, BC V9R 5S5


The request must be for access to records (recorded information). “Records” include all recorded information in paper and electronic form. For example:

  • emails, spreadsheets and other electronic documents;
  • letters, memos, reports, newsletters, draft documents;
  • calendars, agendas, minutes; and,
  • handwritten notes, journals, sticky notes, photographs, videos, and sound recordings including voicemail messages.

Once the Office of the University Secretariat (OUS) receives a Freedom of Information request:

  1. The request is entered into the request log and assigned a file number and the reply deadline (30 business days) is noted.
  2. An acknowledgement is sent to the applicant. Any required additional information is also requested at this stage and the file is placed on hold.  If no additional information is received within 10 business days, the request is considered abandoned.
  3. Departments are contacted to search, prepare, and send the requested records to the OUS
  4. Upon receiving the records, the University Secretary goes through the records and determines if any information should be removed from the records in accordance with the Act.
  5. Material is prepared for release and a response letter is sent to the applicant along with copies of any releasable records. 

After receiving a response letter, an applicant has 30 days in which to request a review of VIU’s decision by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.


Not all information must be released in response to an FOI request. The records may contain redacted (blacked out) information if it falls under any of the “exceptions to disclosure” listed in the FIPPA. For example, information will be withheld if it contains the personal information of a third party (to the request) and may be withheld if its disclosure would:

  • unreasonably invade a third party’s privacy;
  • harm VIU’s financial interests;
  • reveal advice or recommendations to the institution; or,
  • harm the safety or security of a person, facility or system.

Fees (FIPPA, Section 75)

An applicant who makes a request for information may be required to pay fees for the following services:

  • locating, retrieving and producing the record;
  • preparing the record for disclosure;
  • shipping and handling the record;
  • providing a copy of the record.

Fees will be calculated to the nearest quarter hour - sixty dollars ($60) per hour for the services described above. However, fees are not charged for:

  1. the first 3 hours spent locating and retrieving a record, or
  2. time spent severing information from a record.
  3. a request for an applicant’s own personal information.

If an applicant is required to pay a fee for services, VIU:

  1. must give the applicant a written estimate of the total fee before providing the service, and
  2. may require the applicant to pay a deposit.

Fees may be waived if, in VIU’s opinion:

  1. the applicant cannot afford the payment or
  2. the record relates to a matter of public interest, including the environment or public health or safety.

Time Limit for Responding

VIU must submit a response to a request for information not later than 30 days after receiving the request. This requirement does not apply if the time limit is extended or the request is transferred to another public body.

Extending the Time Limit for Responding

The time limit for responding to a request for information may be extended for up to 30 days if one or more of the following apply:

  1. the applicant does not give enough detail to enable VIU to identify a requested record;
  2. a large number of records are requested or must be searched and meeting the time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of VIU;
  3. more time is needed to consult with a third party or other public body before VIU can decide whether or not to give the applicant access to a requested record;
  4. the applicant has consented in the prescribed manner, to the extension.