Delegates voting Wednesday morning at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

Cities oppose new spending watchdog

Many UBCM delegates fear planned watchdog on waste would itself be a waste of money

VANCOUVER – B.C. mayors and councillors overwhelmingly voted Thursday to object to provincial plans to a create a municipal auditor-general.

Many delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention said the planned watchdog on waste would itself be a waste of money. But after several suggestions to restrict the scope of the auditor’s work, delegates approved a motion to continue working with the provincial government on the project.

Civic leaders are riled by the goverment’s vow to bring in the auditor to help police spending by municipalities and regional districts. Most were not appeased by provincial promises the auditor’s recommendations will be non-binding, that the office won’t meddle with civic policy and that the costs would be borne by Victoria.

“One thing I’ve learned in politics is don’t trust,” said Cowichan Valley delegate Loren Duncan. “This whole thing is driven by an agenda of the business community to have someone on the inside to bedevil the local governments on their taxation policies.”

Cities will end up shouldering the cost of their own extra staff time involved, predicted Port Alberni Coun. Jack McLeman said. “Don’t force things on us,” he said.

“We do not want another bureaucracy formed and that’s exactly what this is,” said Cariboo Regional District director Roberta Faust. “Believe me, it will be coming out of all our taxpayers’ pockets.”

Al Siebring, a North Cowichan delegate, said UBCM needs to work with the province on the roll-out of the auditor or else cities will have no influence on what happens.

A handful of delegates spoke in support of the municipal auditor concept, saying cities should have nothing to fear from a new tool for taxpayer transparency.

“I’m not scared of a municipal auditor-general for our cities and I don’t see why anybody else should be,” Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders said.

The resolution adopted Thursday calls the office unnecessary but endorses the UBCM executive’s policy paper on how to try to shape the outcome.

A municipal auditor was promised by Premier Christy Clark in her leadership campaign. Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Ida Chong says the auditor will not duplicate audits of municipal books that are already required, but will compare performance of local governments to determine best practices on major projects funded by senior governments.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: A morning in a physically-distanced Victoria

Residents commute in a pandemic-changed city

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Summer program helps Greater Victoria teens sharpen writing skills

Registration for the program runs until Aug. 17

Saanich bylaw sparks EV charging infrastructure requirements in new builds

All new developments to be EV-charger compatible starting Sept. 1

Langford cuts red tape, engages in random acts of kindness to uplift spirits

‘I Am Langford’ campaign promotes supporting local

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Most Read