THE Burnaby First Coalition (BFC) on Monday referring to the City of Burnaby’s free golf for City Hall insiders, noted “the apparent partisan slant of the affiliations of the people eligible for the perk.”
It said: “Identification cards entitle current councillors and approximately 16 commissioners with unlimited guests to free use of recreation facilities. Additionally, about 60 people are named as having complimentary passes with one guest. This list names school trustees, spouses and children of current councillors, as well as former councillors and commissioners.”
A local newspaper’s investigation shows that golf course usage by a few takes up most of the expenditures, capped at $50,000.
Internet searches show that most of the commissioners have active ties to the NDP-BCA and / or to trade unions supportive of the NDP. BCA membership incorporates provincial NDP membership as a prerequisite, said BFC.
* Commissioner Lee Loftus – $2,677.89 in golf fees – Vice-President of the BCA, is business manager for the BC Insulators Union, President of the B.C. Construction Trades Council.
* Commissioner Lance Matricardi – Shop Steward at Teamsters local 31 – Coast 2000 Terminals.
* Commissioner Brian Nasu – currently Union Representative at the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1518, and former member of Local 1518’s executive board.
* Commissioner Wayne Peppard -$7,898.24 in golf fees – Executive Director of the BC Building Trades Council.
* Commissioner Katrina Chen – works for federal NDP MP Peter Julian (Twitter post)
BFC mayoral candidate Daren Hancott said, “Mayor [Dereck] Corrigan would find it easier to make the case that this civic perk does reward individuals for ‘meritorious service’ to Burnaby residents if commissioner appointments did not draw so heavily on just one part of the Burnaby community.”
Rick McGowan, Burnaby First researcher, said, “Given that voter turnout is exceptionally low and the BCA monopolizes both Council and School Board, it is incumbent on Mr. Corrigan to purposely look beyond his supporters when making appointments to unelected civic bodies. If committees had proportional representation or, better yet, had members who were not so politically committed, they might be somewhat representative of the larger community.”
McGowan felt that extending complimentary passes to spouses and councillors’ sons and daughters goes “beyond the intended purpose of the practice” of recognizing meritorious service to the city”.
BFC said it is concerned that oversight for the “benefits for buddies” program is lacking. The Audit Committee, made up of Mayor Corrigan ($5,717.65 in golf fees), and Councillors Dan Johnston, Colleen Jordan ($4,674.20 in golf fees), and Paul McDonell ($2,633.40 in golf fees), does not provide an independent review of a perk that directly benefits committee members.
BFC would ask the provincial Office of the Municipal Auditor General, which is independent of direct oversight by government, to review City finances. However, Corrigan was quoted in the Georgia Straight as vociferously opposed to the creation of this office, calling it “political smoke and mirrors” motivated by “paranoia”. He stated he has “no concern about anybody taking a look at our books”.
BFC said it is prepared to take Corrigan at his word and called on him to bring in the Municipal Auditor General to provide Burnaby taxpayers with clear accounting for the costs of the perk before the election .