Opposition leader John Horgan speaks to local government convention in 2015, promising to get rid of Canada’s only auditor general for local government. (Black Press files)

Keep local government auditor, B.C. small business group says

John Horgan promised to scrap it, ministry now reviewing it

The B.C. NDP government has embarked on a review of one of former premier Christy Clark’s more controversial ideas, an auditor general to examine the performance of municipal governments.

Unpopular with municipalities since Clark promised it during her 2012 bid for the leadership of the B.C. Liberal Party, the Auditor General for Local Government has carried on with “performance audits” of municipal projects and financial management since the original auditor was fired in 2015 over internal conflicts with staff.

Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson confirmed that a review is underway, as required by the legislation that set up the office.

“I’m not going to pre-determine the outcome of the review at this time,” Robinson said Monday. “I’ll be looking to determine whether the office is offering value to local governments and whether changes made prior to my time in government have been effective.”

Clark and former communities minister Peter Fassbender argued that performance auditing isn’t a duplication of standard annual audits local governments are required to do, but rather a way to find and share best practices for managing construction, running utilities and other local government functions.

Premier John Horgan promised to scrap the office in his 2015 speech to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, where Fassbender announced the current auditor, former Metro Vancouver chief financial officer Gordon Ruth. The announcement came before an audience of hostile mayors and councillors who were in some cases refusing to spend staff time cooperating with a project that was in disarray.

Ruth was appointed to replace Basia Ruta, a former federal auditor who was fired after she refused to participate in an internal review of her performance, amid reports that work had stalled with more than $5 million spent on municipal audit efforts.

RELATED: Municipal auditor fired, no severance

The most recent audit on the municipal auditor’s website, released in April, looked at the City of Kelowna’s management of drinking water. It was a follow-up to a similar look at drinking water management in the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business continues to support having a separate auditor for local government, arguing that small businesses paying a large share of local property taxes. Richard Truscott, CFIB vice president for B.C. and Alberta, says some of the audits were requested by the municipal governments themselves.

“The audits done on how to improve municipal procurement processes, or those on human resources, or those on human resources practices, are excellent examples of the valuable work the AGLG has been doing,” Truscott told Black Press.

“I know some municipal governments get their backs up, and don’t always appreciate being held accountable for the money they spend,” Truscott said. “But it’s exactly what local businesses and other taxpayers rightfully expect and demand.

“Rather than constantly raising taxes, there definitely should be a focus on looking at how wisely municipalities are spending the billions of dollars already handed over each year by taxpayers.”

Just Posted

Kootenay town was the hot spot in all of Canada on Monday

The temperature hit 38.8 C at the Warfield weather station on July 16, setting a new daily record

Who will fill the Greyhound void in the Kootenays?

Minister Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West sees opportunity for local operators

COLUMN: Slow and steady to huckleberry glory

Easy pickings with Gord Turner

National award for Selkirk alumnus

One of 10 winners from across Canada

Bounty on West Kootenay northern pike

$10 a head reward for northern pike caught in Columbia, Kootenay and Pend d’ Oreille Rivers.

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Canadian Tire delivers toys to ease kids’ street play pain in B.C. neighbourhood

It’s like Christmas for 11 kids who are supposed to be confined to their yards by strata bylaw

City orders largest Kinder Morgan protest camp to leave

Residents of Camp Cloud near the Trans Mountain work site have 72 hours to leave

Cougar shot near B.C. marina

Police were called to complaints of a cougar climbing through boats and sheds at the Nanaimo Yacht Club

14-year-old pilot attempts to break Guinness World Record at B.C. airport

Mohd Shaikhsorab wants to become youngest pilot with fewest hours logged to fly solo

Price no guarantee for safety with horse riding helmets: new report

A Swedish insurance report reveals that many brands of equestrian helmets do not protect riders as well as they could.

Most Read