Delta mayor under fire for planned trip and travel expenses – BC

Delta Mayor George Harvie rejects calls to cancel a planned June trip to Amsterdam.

The move comes despite his own councilors ousting him from Metro Vancouver’s board of directors.

Now, its newly released expenses for the first months of 2024 are sparking more outrage and questions about accountability in the Metro Vancouver Regional District.

Click to play video: 'Delta Mayor George Harvie's travel expenses questioned'

Delta Mayor George Harvie’s travel expenses questioned

“Mayor Harvie should absolutely cancel his trip to Amsterdam,” said Carson Binda, director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation of British Columbia.

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“It is unacceptable that this mayor who has already been removed from office in Metro Vancouver is billing taxpayers for flying to the Netherlands – as far as we can see, this is absolutely worthless.”

Despite his dismissal from Metro Vancouver’s board of directors, Harvie was allowed to remain until July 1, so he could attend a conference in Amsterdam on levee systems.

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In an email, Harvie’s office said in part that he “will remain a member of the Mayor’s Committee, where the lessons from the trip will continue to be valuable to the region.”

New Westminster city councilor Daniel Fontaine said Metro Vancouver board members should intervene.

“They still have a chance to thwart this and send a message to the taxpayers of Metro Vancouver that they really care about even expenses like this,” he said.

Click to play video: 'New West councilors question mayor's trip abroad'

The new councilors from the West question the mayor’s trip abroad

Metro Vancouver data shows Harvie has already incurred more than $32,000 in expenses this year.

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He claimed more than $21,000 for a flight to Asia plus $2,700 for accommodation and travel expenses.

There’s also a bill of nearly $1,300 for accommodations at the Inn at Laurel Point in Victoria, as well as an upcoming trip to Amsterdam. The plane ticket cost $5,300.

Jerry Dobrovolny, Metro Vancouver’s chief administrative officer, has billed $3,700 in expenses so far this year.

This follows Metro Vancouver’s revelations of astronomical cost overruns at its wastewater treatment facility in North Vancouver.

Click to play video: 'Court documents shed light on wastewater treatment plant dispute'

Court documents shed light on wastewater treatment plant dispute

In 2018, public backlash forced Metro Vancouver board members to reverse retirement payments they had given themselves. The borough president at the time, Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, billed more than $80,000 in travel expenses over five years.

“We think the provincial government needs to bring back the local government auditor general,” Binda said.

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“This was a position that existed until the NDP defunded it and eventually eliminated it entirely.”

Fontaine agreed.

“It just makes the public shake their head and say, if there’s no financial oversight over those types of activities, is it any wonder these megabudgets are so over budget?” he said.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs said the public can always file complaints about public expenditures.

“If a person has concerns about unauthorized expenditure or other financial irregularity, he or she may file a complaint with the auditor, who must report that complaint,” the ministry said in a statement.

“And local governments must submit annual audited financial statements and other requested financial information to the Province.”

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