Friday, December 15, 2023

Prince George Mayor's travel/expenses makes for clarion call for public records, civic transparency and accountability

Mayor Simon Yu of Prince George probably is not going to receive many Christmas cards from his fellow civic officials this year; that after a report first made by CBC radio's Daybreak North noted of some high level spending on civic business.

Simon Yu pledges to do better in second year of office 

The review of civic expenses is a layer of the municipal onion that is rarely peeled. And a topic often not embraced by those that work at City and Town Hall's across BC.

However, revelations such as those from Prince George this week, could see residents of communities across the province start to wonder if there is not a need for a lot more transparency when it comes to expenses and travel by their local politicians.

Prince George Mayor Simon Yu

Some of the attention to the topic of the Prince George Mayor's spending from media in the region can be reviewed below:

$4,000 in meals, 2 nights at Château Laurier help nearly double Prince George mayor's expenses, documents show
Prince George Mayor spent over $18,000 on hotels, travel: report
Mayor Yu responds to report on overspending

The Mayor, a newcomer to office and just over a year into his first term, may indeed have been unaware of the level of spending he had accumulated, or the need to disclose when and where he travelled. 

Though it's quite likely he'll be more parsimonious and attentive to those elements moving forward when he travels in the future.

However, the larger issue is, that when it comes to providing for that kind of data that should be in the public domain,  most municipal government's have yet to make moves on the concept of full disclosure. 

The controversy from Prince George could be a moment of reflection for other city councils to explore as to how they approach the issue of reporting on travel and expenses.

We've observed from this space a number of times over the last few years of the need for a public listing of when Civic officials are out of town.  

As well, there is also a need for a more comprehensive accounting of expenses than the lump sum disclosure that comes with the annual SOFI report, or from other municipal instruments that the public may not be aware of.

Council salary/expenses
Staff salary/expenses

As for travel, when it comes to  when Prince Rupert's elected officials and senior staffers are out of town on civic business, advisories are hit and miss. 

Sometimes we learn of it through a social media note, others by way of a passing update from a Council session, or through a social event that the Mayor or a Council members has attended.

We rarely hear much about Senior Staff travels; or the volume of spending that comes with those requirements. 

Setting up a page on the civic website that is easily accessible and updated twice a month would go a long ways towards providing a glimpse into the volume of such travel for the Mayor, Council and senior staff members, along with the cost of that out of town trips as part of civic business.

Towards a more transparent municipal  overview, Reporters shouldn't have to file Freedom of Information requests for what should be basic public information, documentation that should allow for a review of how much money municipal governments spend and how they spend it.

For notes on Municipal government in Prince Rupert see our archive page here.


  1. Transparency is only mentioned for a month prior to civic election. The word is then forgotten until the magic month prior to the next election. Just imagine if one of the councilors brought it up! Nope crickets.

  2. Feel free to insert the “You can’t catch fish if your boat is always in the harbour” comment wherever.

  3. OMG … when will be the next election we don’t need an unscrupulous guy🥲🥲🥲