When you visit the press release section on the City of Victoria website, don’t expect to easily find what you want.
The landmark Governance Review Report by the consultants MNP is arguably the most important document to come out of city hall during the last two terms. But you won’t find a press release or convenient hotlink or it posted in the documents section.
Instead, the most recent press release invites residents to pick a plant and write to express your admiration, devotion or however the muse moves, at a ‘Poetry of Plants’ session with the city’s youth poet laureate.
Maybe it’s because the governance report is an indictment of the governance practices of the city and makes 30 recommendations to improve accountability, transparency and decision-making. An independent, high-level analysis by MNP of how well the city council operates is of considerable interest to taxpayers.
Council chose to minimize controversy by releasing the 111-page document during the dog days of summer. It’s convenient timing as residents and the media are on holidays or preoccupied, and it can be handed off to the next council.
It’s worth remembering that the last regional study of governance involved extensive public consultation with all 13 municipalities on integrating services. The CISGI report was quietly shelved by the province in 2017.
This governance report - sure to be a best seller - will be discussed at committee of the whole on Sept. 8. The municipal election is Oct. 15.
Until then taxpayers should remind this outgoing council (and political hopefuls) that full transparency and accountability are basic principles of effective municipal governance that allow for public input to effect change.
Council still hasn’t figured that out, or what’s more likely, knows better and chose otherwise.
Stan Bartlett, vice-chair
Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria