EDITORIAL: Office work requires review

An independent investigation of renovations at Eric Foster's office is needed

It’s not unexpected that an elected official will make some changes when they move into a new office.

Traditionally, the work consists of new carpet or a different coulor of paint on the walls. Usually, it’s relatively minor stuff.

So that’s why the extent of the construction done at Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster’s leased office is raising some eyebrows here and in Victoria.

Among the invoices reviewed by B.C.’s auditor general is $51,000 worth of work for a furnace, vapour barriers in the exterior walls, a double-painted storefront window, new wiring, plumbing, gas piping and painting the outside of the building.

Ultimately, that sounds more like a complete overhaul than a standard renovation.

One has to take Foster at his word that he followed the legislative requirements for documenting the work undertaken by his landlord and, it should be pointed out that the legislative bureaucracy initially approved the invoices and paid out the cash.

But one has to wonder why Foster selected a space that was virtually a vacant shell? It had to be obvious that considerable effort would be required to bring it up to a suitable condition.

Foster says he selected the site because of its proximity to parking and its ground-floor access (the  previous MLA’s office was on the third floor of a building).

But while accessibility is admirable, was that office the most cost-effective use of taxpayers’ dollars?

Given the history between Foster and the auditor general over the watchdog’s career, it’s time for an independent, third-party review of the renovations.

Only then will residents have a sense of what occurred on their behalf.

 

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