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

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

CSWM is planning to increase the space for loading bays at the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre. Record file photo
CSWM plans increase to number of Comox Valley landfill bays

The expansion prompted in part by COVID-19 spacing requirements

Cumberland is demanding a major clean-up at a Derwent Avenue property. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland orders massive clean-up at downtown house

Uninsured vehicles, illegal structures have been subject of multiple complaints

Andrea Cupelli of the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness told council the coalition’s needs assessment for non-market housing continues to grow throughout the region, as well as within Comox. . File photo
Coalition to end homelessness asking for additional funding from Comox

The coalition’s needs assessment for non-market housing continues to grow

Work on the first phase of renovations at the Village of Cumberland office is nearing completion. Record file photo
Cumberland office close to re-opening after reno

First phase with COVID measures should be done this month

Cumberland has long gone its own way when it comes to parks. Record file photo
Cumberland hesitant about regional park service

Community was left out of area park plan back fifty years ago

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read