The CTQ housing report will cost North Saanich taxpayers almost $40,000. Wouldn’t you think councillors ought to have a few questions?
Councillor McMurphy not only had the right to query Mr. Grifone, she had a duty to the taxpayers to do so. As keepers of the public purse, councillors would be failing in their fiduciary responsibility to the community they were elected to serve if they did not verify the validity of the Housing Strategy Report. It is, and was, an abuse of power to prevent further questions from being asked.
Council must ensure that the consultant returns to a future meeting to explain and justify the evidence supporting his recommendations, which, if adopted, will have a significant impact on all residents of North Saanich. To do any less would be a dereliction of duty.
It is often said that where there is smoke, there is fire and there was plenty of smoke in the council chambers on Aug. 19. If the admitted contact with the consultant by councillors Browne, McBride and Mearns was of no consequence, why did they get up and walk out? Not only did those councillors cast doubt on themselves and, by extension, Councillor Daly, they also undermined the consultant’s credibility. As a result, Mr. Grifone was given no opportunity to attempt to clear himself of any perception of being inappropriately influenced.
Most importantly, if the questions surrounding the report are not addressed to everyone’s satisfaction, we are left with a document that future councils could be justified in dismissing. For $40,000, residents are entitled to a report that can withstand scrutiny and challenge, and will stand the test of time. Significant work is still required before that point is reached.