Greater Victoria’s tax watchdog is happy to see an audit planned for the Johnson Street Bridge replacement project.
The Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria say they applaud the Auditor General for Local Government’s (AGLC) plans to audit the Victoria bridge project, which went $65 million above its original budget and took nearly a decade to complete. In September 2018 Mayor Lisa Helps, with the support of council, reached out to the AGLC and requested the audit.
On Wednesday, the AGLC announced the bridge would be its second audit in a capital project management series. The AGLC will review the replacement project and provide recommendations to the City of Victoria and other local governments for managing future large-scale capital projects.
“A lot of taxpayer blood has been spilled over this project,” said a statement from Stan Bartlett, chair of the Grumpy Taxpayers$. “So hopefully the City and other municipalities around the province will learn from this management audit.”
The bridge replacement project was first discussed in April 2009 and original estimates slated the upgrade for $40 million. By the time it was opened to traffic in April 2018, the bridge cost $105 million.
An online group pushed for a referendum on the bridge project in 2017. Its director, Ross Crockford, also welcomes the audit.
“We hope the auditor-general will be able to get to the bottom of many unanswered questions about this project,” Crockford said. “For example, the engineers involved have never fully explained why they recommended a mechanically unusual design for the bridge, which significantly increased its cost and construction time.”