EDITORIAL: Chamber issues point to need for oversight

The Gazette argues that the chamber clearly needs more oversight on taxpayer money.

In council chambers on Monday, council spent a great dealing of time debating one issue. That issue, which was sparked by a Downtown Business Association delegation to council during Committee of the Whole, ate up a large portion of the morning meeting, caused two councillors to storm out, and then again almost dominated the evening meeting several hours later.

The issue on the table was the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce’s funding and the chamber’s newly elected board.

Several questions were raised over the course of the day (and it was a day). Committee of the Whole lasted nearly six hours while the evening meeting went two and a half. Many allegations were made from both sides, by proxy: some councillors stated the board had been illegally elected against the chamber’s own bylaws, while others argued that it was immaterial because the board has never followed its bylaws.

While both allegations are serious, the latter especially stands out.

If the allegation is true, it means that for years — the five or so years the chamber has existed in its current form — the city has been giving money to an organization that may or may not have had appropriate oversight.

When questioned, city staff estimated the grant in aid policy as standing with the chamber has amounted to $80,000 in funding over the past five years. To have an organization that is significantly funded by tax revenue not following its bylaws is inconceivable.

The bylaws — such as the 90-day membership requirement before someone can be elected to the board, or the 30-day “member in good standing” requirement to vote at the annual general meeting — are in place to ensure that the organization (and by extension, our taxpayer dollars) are protected.

If, as a councillor stated, these bylaws haven’t been properly followed while the city continued to dole out funding year after year, it points to a serious lack of oversight on both the part of council and the chamber’s leadership.

While there may be no way to know for sure if the bylaws have been followed — it comes down to the words of those who have been there and those who should know — the allegation should spark a dramatic reform in how the city ensures grant in aid funds are being spent.

If the allegation is true, it means the chamber couldn’t handle the responsibility of taxpayer funding, so the city needs to step in — either that, or pull the funding for groups unable or unwilling to follow process to ensure accountability and good leadership where tax dollars are being spent.

Just Posted

Local athlete nominated for top B.C. award

Charlie Kain has been involved with Special Olympics since he was 11

Column: Have your say on library funding

Provincial funding for libraries has been stagnant for 10 years

Warming centre overshadows cannabis store at Monday council session

Council also heard about disk golf, city park camping and an RDKB housing survey

Entrepreneurs faced ‘sink or swim’ decision after flood

Grand Forks businesses left with little direction a year after the flood

Christina Lake clean-up a success

A wheelchair, cigarette butts and old tires filled the back of a truck headed to the dump

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read