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

Handgun pointing complaint draws strong RCMP presence at Chilliwack residence Wednesday night

One in custody after brief standoff involving Emergency Response Team and canine unit

Iconic Chilliwack store passes clothing racks on to downtown neighbours

Chilliwack Mission Thriftstore given racks and fixtures as downtown store closes for good

Exercise and cancer to be explored via webinar

UFV’s Dr. Iris Lesser to lead Zoom event for cancer patients and supporters

Overnight closures for Vedder dike gates this summer rather than full closure

Working with anti-dumping and angling advocates, City of Chilliwack came up with compromise

Fiscal statement from the feds lacked clear plan for economic recovery: MP Strahl

While Conservatives backed emergency supports, it’s now time for ‘transparent plan to guide recovery’

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read