Sunday, March 1, 2009

Shouldn't we have a "watch dog"....

It's hard to believe that in this day and age that PEI Municipalities like Charlottetown and Summerside don't have anyone to report to... that's right the Auditor General has absolutely no authority to investigate any unusual wrong doings by these Corporations ... neither does the Province.... not that I'm saying there is anything that currently stands out but Councils can do whatever they want and there is no independent agency to investigate any wrong doing and this has got to change... the Federal Government has the Auditor General of Canada as a watch dog... every Province in Canada has a Provincial Auditor General as a watch dog... and the Municipalities have no one... they can spend and direct taxpayers' money any way they want and it's time they had a watch dog... this has been a huge pet peeve of mine as I continue to watch some of our PEI municipalities overspend with no real strategy.... we all need to push our Government to make changes to allow the Auditor General to review how our Municipalities run their operations so we can get some level of control over wasteful costs and allow some constructive feedback to our elected officials... I've attached a response from Minister Bertram to an earlier email I sent her on my concerns and hopefully some changes will be coming forward...

----Original Message-----
From: Carolyn Bertram []
Sent: April-14-08 3:03 PM
To: Tim Banks
Subject: RE: City of Charlottetown
April 14, 2008

Dear Tim,

My apologies for not responding earlier to your e-mail message of March 19th, 2008. I appreciate and value the main theme of your message in which you urge greater oversight with regard to municipal issues. I assure you my Cabinet colleagues and I support measures intended to serve the greater interest of our Island population. I am sure you will agree this is reflected in the Speech from the Throne where it was announced that a Commissioner on Land and Local Governance will be appointed to conduct a comprehensive review of municipal and land use development issues.

Our government believes, as you do, that it is time to integrate change in the province’s approach to municipal governance. With this in mind, it is my intention to advance your timely comments to the Commissioner. I am confident that together with the legislative reform to which government has committed the municipal oversight which you envision will be achieved.

In closing, I want to extend my sincere thanks to you for bringing your concerns to my attention.


My original email to Minsiter Bertram

>>> "Tim Banks"
3/19/2008 9:53 AM >>>


Wouldn't it be reasonable to think that the Charlottetown Act along with
others should be updated to see that they are looking after the
taxpayers interests? The Province has the Auditor General to
investigate situations to improve how our elected officials
represent the taxpayers and shouldn't a similar instrument be legislated
into the municipal acts to insure taxpayers' interests are being looked
after? The tighter the controls on municipal budgets and operating
processes the fewer dollars they will be looking for from the Province.

Is such a review going to take place and how can I help?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmm... we have an auditor general that oversees the provincial government.

Hmm... we have a provincial government that provides local government services to tens of thousands of Islanders who live outside municipally incorporated areas.

Hmm... we have 75 municipalities, some of which have fewer than one hundred residents, struggling to provide services. These same municipalities have over 500 muncipal politicians trying to represent their constituents but they all end up dilluting the voice of Islanders on the regional and national stage.

Hmm... we have many municipalities in debt. We also have school boards in debt. In neighbouring Nova Scotia we had significant reform take place in the 1990s which resulted in a law that prohibits a municipality, school board or health authority from running a deficit, let alone carry debt.

Here's a ground breaking solution (which I have proposed over on The Guardian and on CBC many times).... get rid of municipalities on PEI.

We can let the provincial government be the only government on this island. From shore to shore to shore to shore - one single jurisdiction. Consistent property taxation based upon proximity to public services. Consistent development regulations with island-wide zoning and land use planning that meets 21st century requirements. A Prince Edward Island fire service instead of the mish-mash of sub-standard municipal and private fire companies with varying fire rates. A single police service - I prefer RCMP to remove the local-yokel bias factor. Consistent transportation planning, procurement of public services, modern efficient government.... one can only dream.

And on the provincial front, to improve the quality of representation, eliminate artificial boundaries such as electoral districts. Elect those MLAs at large, just like councilors in Saint John, NB.

We need to start treating PEI like a single big municipality instead of the farce that it has become in recent decades (maybe it always has been a farce - a quirk of history that probably never should have been).

At any rate, there are many ways to improve our system of governance and the first step is to rationalize it by eliminating municipalities.