In a recently released access to information decision under Ontario’s Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“MFIPPA”), an adjudicator for the office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (“IPC”) confirmed that building plans are not personal information for the purpose of MFIPPA.
The requester in this access to information case sought disclosure of the building plans for a neighbouring property. The owners of the property objected. It appears that the owners conceded at the hearing that the building plans did not contain personal information. The opening words of the definition of “personal information” in subsection 2(1) of MFIPPA define “personal information” as “recorded information about an identifiable individual”. The adjudicator followed a long line of decisions of the IPC in which the IPC has distinguished between information “about a property” and information “about an individual”. The adjudicator concluded that the building plans contained no information other than the layout of the building and, therefore, was information that was solely “about the property”.
It should be noted, however, that the line between what constitutes information about a property and information about an individual for purposes of MFIPPA depends on the type of information at issue and how easy it may be to link to an individual. For example, in other decisions, the IPC has concluded that appraisal information about a property is personal information.