Briarpatch’s legal push to obtain documents through ATI requests from the Village of Pinehouse continues


By Rachel Aiello

It has now been a year since former Briarpatch editor Valerie Zink filed two access-to-information requests with the Village of Pinehouse, and so far, the Regina magazine has only received what editor Andrew Loewen describes as a “small share” of the documents.

Despite the village’s noncompliance, D’Arcy Hande— the reporter behind the article that the ATI requests were intended for—was able to sort through the documents the village has released and reported on his findings in the recently published story, "How the Nuclear Waste Management Organization targeted the Northern Village of Pinehouse." The story details how the federally mandated consortium attempted to solicit Pinehouse to become a host site for nuclear waste by pouring over $471,000 into the community and planning a public consultation that framed the partnership as a solution to the village’s socioeconomic issues.

On Jan. 29, Briarpatch received a fax from the village saying it would try to comply by the end of February, as J-Source previously reported. Briarpatch then received some documents in early March, in partial compliance with one of two ATI requests filed in April 2013.

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In the cover letter sent along with the documents obtained, a village representative said it was seeking legal counsel on the yet-to-be released documents. 

Loewen said the magazine has yet to receive anything further and has not made any additional access requests to the village on this matter.

As it stands, two legal cases have been served against the village in attempts to access information. The other is a much larger suit that Hande is at the heart of, alongside 38 other plaintiffs, in challenging a collaboration agreement that was signed in December 2012, between the village and Kineepik Métis Local Inc. with Cameco and Areva.

It is possible for the province to prosecute the village for failure to comply with the act, but that has yet to happen.

Mediation between the plaintiffs and the defendants and their legal counsel is scheduled for May, as part the claim process. However, Loewen said Briarpatch is standing firm in request for documents, to which the privacy commissioner has said they have the right.

Rachel Aiello is a freelancer. Recently, her interest in Canadian investigative journalism has inspired her to begin a blog on the topic. Aiello's most recent work has appeared in Postmedia Network newspapers, Briarpatch Magazine, andGlue, an Ottawa student magazine. 

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