Recently it’s come to our attention that the city has way overshot its budget on the new downtown parkade. Neil Godbout has written brilliantly about the matter and we now are left with more questions than answers.
Who is more to blame - Soltis or Wells? How much did council know and how much are they currently politicking to get out of this mess? As a lifelong resident, I think my neighbours are asking the wrong questions. For example,why would council authorize an unelected official to spend $8 million without any oversight? What was council thinking when they gave Soltis this authority? Before we criticize the municipal bureaucracy or our elected officials however, we should first look at ourselves.
Less than 25 per cent of the eligible voting population actually voted in the 2018 municipal election, according to Civic Info BC. The vast majority (over 75 per cent) of Prince George residents didn’t care who was handling the city’s business. Our civic leaders in turn acted as anybody lacking oversight would do. The cost overrun is a prime example of what a lack in oversight leads to. Whether Mayor Hall allowed the parkade ordeal to get this far due to pure incompetence or some malicious intent is unknown but the fact is that millions of taxpayer money is now down the drain.
Prince Georgians and their lack of interest in how the city is run has allowed weak and incapable leadership to permeate throughout our city’s foundation. Elected officials shoved responsibility onto unelected bureaucrats and those same bureaucrats are rewarded by covering council’s back. The next thing we know, the parkade is $22 million over budget and our city’s leadership is all acting like they were kept in the dark the entire time.
Mayor Hall, when asked by Carolina de Ryk in a CBC interview what level of responsibility he bears for this situation, responded “Well, I think we all bear responsibility.”
I am prone to agree with him on this. We should first put more responsibility onto our elected officials and be willing to show up to the ballot box to hold them accountable.