Monday, January 25, 2021

Taxpayers group looks to revise Provincial oversight on Municipal government calling for "recall legislation" for the civic level

Some recent high profile spending in a number of British Columbia communities have give a Taxpayer watchdog group cause to make a call for municipal residents to have an option to recall their elected officials at the community level, with the BC branch of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation calling for a municipal version of the current provincial measure in the province.

“We can take pride that British Columbia is the only place in Canada that can fire provincial politicians between elections and now we need to extend that to our city halls. As more money and power flows through our city halls, we need more accountability from Vancouver to Vanderhoof.” -- Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. 

The call for a chance to reign in the municipal governments comes after a few weeks of some rather bad publicity for some of the province's municipalities. 

Among them, a growing controversy over the extreme cost over runs found in Prince George, where work on a parking garage in the downtown area of that city has incredulously gone 22 million dollars over budget, seen a number of staff members depart the city and even Brough calls for resignations of Prince George City Council.

The Prince George story is notable for the lack of transparency that seems to have been in place as the project spiralled out of control, with no clear indication that anyone on that city's Council was keeping tabs on the growing cost of the work.

Other areas of some spectacular tone deaf spending come from Vancouver and the Okanagan, with the BC taxpayers group noting that while small businesses and municipal residents are scaling back their spending as they cope with COVID, not everyone seems to be on the same page on that theme.

As the taxpayer group notes in their information statement of last week, the provincial recall legislation which was introduced in 1991, allows for constituents to trigger a by-election if more than 40 percent of voters sign a formal petition.

As part of their initiative the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the government of Premier John Horgan and Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne to table legislation during the next session to expand recall powers to cities and towns across B.C.

You can follow along to see if they have any success in catching the ear of the Premier through our Legislature Archive page.

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