Whistler unsure of proposed auditor general office for B.C. municipalities 

Ken Melamed waiting until UBCM to learn more about the provincial proposal

Questions still need to be answered before Whistler, like other municipalities in B.C., can throw its support behind a new Municipal Auditor General's office.

"It sounds like a good idea," said Mayor Ken Melamed Tuesday. "But the devil's often in the details."

Details he's still short on are: who will be paying for this office, will it come from taxpayers, is this the best way to provide more accountability and transparency in local government?

In a letter to council this week, Ida Chong, minister of community, sport and cultural development, is asking Whistler, and other B.C. municipalities, for feedback on the proposed new office.

"The primary benefit of the office of the Municipal Auditor General is increased assurance that taxpayers are getting value-for-money from their local governments - just as they have that assurance through the Office of the Auditor General's review of provincial finances," said Chong.

"This supports the public interest, provides certainty and predictability to strengthen investor confidence in British Columbia, as well as supporting local governments in their budgeting processes."

Whistler's mayor is, however, reserving his support until the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) annual meeting next month, where he plans to attend workshops on the issue.

UBCM's executive has yet to speak to the issue but it will be seeking direction from its members at the upcoming convention in Vancouver from September 26 to 30.

"Undeniably people are looking for greater transparency and accountability and want to make sure that local government is providing service in the most efficient way," said Mayor Melamed.

"Auditors have obviously established their value at the federal and provincial level. The question is: where is the value proposition at the municipal level?

"There's always a cost for these things."

Municipal Auditor General offices are required for municipalities in Nova Scotia, municipalities over 100,000 in Quebec, and for the city of Toronto.

Christy Clark promised a municipal auditor general office when she was running for Liberal leader. Now, as premier, Clark's Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, led by minister Ida Chong, is leading the charge.

Chong has sent a survey to municipalities, canvassing opinion on the benefit of the municipal auditor general office and asking what specific function or duties that office should have.

Read more in this week's Pique .





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