New independent Auditor General approved for City of Vancouver

Oct 24 2019, 5:08 pm

Vancouver is the largest major Canadian city without its own independent Auditor General, but that could soon change.

On Wednesday, city council unanimously approved a motion by councillor Colleen Hardwick to kick off the process that will eventually provide the City of Vancouver with an Auditor General’s office. Councillor Michael Wiebe was absent from the vote.

During the final deliberations, Hardwick said she sought advice over the summer from other municipal governments across the country that have Auditor Generals, which led to the introduction of the motion last month.

In her motion, she cites examples of similar independent auditing offices and structures in Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Edmonton.

“It’s so important add it send a very important signal to the rest of Canada,” Hardwick said during in the meeting. “I think there is ample evidence this is a good move for the City of Vancouver.”

With the approval, city council will lead the process of forming the new office, in consultation with legal opinions, other municipal advisory bodies such as the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, other Auditor General offices in the country, and the provincial government on matters relating to the Vancouver Charter.

This new body would replace the existing layer of oversight provided by the leadership of city staff.

“I think that this is not about oversight necessarily and it is not about auditing our staff and their way of choosing to do things,” said councillor Melissa De Genova. ” I see this as hopefully gives staff one last thing to worry about.”

The municipal government’s combined operating and capital budget is now hovering at $2 billion in 2019, up from about $1.5 billion in 2015.

“I think we should never be afraid of good governance and oversight,” said councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung. “All of the cities that have implemented this have found savings, allowing the cities to be able to redirect funds to other priorities. If we can make our dollars work better, and go further, I think that is to everyone’s benefit.”

The new office is estimated to cost about $1 million annually, with funding allocated from the city budget savings and efficiencies identified by the office.