Budget & Estimate Disasters

Vancouver Sun and snake oil rhetoric

It took a long while for the Vancouver Sun to peek at our world and notice issues that have been regularly reported in social media. As the May 2017 election approaches, they will resume downplaying the same issues and will point back to the time in April 2016 when they did not. This may be an accidental moment of honesty that slipped through the usual barriers.

On time? On budget? Fat chance, Vancouver Sun, April 28, 2016:

Overall, says Dermod Travis of Integrity B.C., the Gateway transportation plan — other components include the Port Mann Bridge replacement, widening of the Trans-Canada Highway, and the North Fraser Perimeter Road — overshot budget estimates by more than $2 billion. Travis warns that of 18 projects announced by the B.C. government since 2003, nine hospitals are over-budget by 12.6 per cent, seven transportation projects are 59.2 per cent over budget, and the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project and a new roof for B.C. Place were 68.1 per cent over budget.

Then there are the provincial government’s large-scale information technology projects. Reporters Lori Culbert and Rob Shaw found them plagued by operational problems, behind schedule, and $350 million over budget…

Finally, there is the abysmal B.C. Hydro file, where provincial policy forces its own utility to borrow money in order to pay dividends demanded so that the government can show a balanced budget today while leaving payment to future taxpayers. Behind this shell game is the fact that, as Palmer pointed out in another damning column, the Northwest Transmission line that was supposed to cost $395 million has come in more than 80 per cent over budget at $716 million. Meanwhile, B.C. Hydro’s debt has been growing eight times faster than growth in the provincial economy.

In February, when it proudly announced its fourth consecutive balanced budget, the Liberal government said it achieved this benchmark by disciplined management of government spending and prudent planning for the unexpected. Oh, really? Talking the talk is one thing, walking the walk is another…

1 reply »

  1. “Talking the talk is one thing, walking the walk is another…”

    That holds true for journalism as well. We’ll see how the Vancouver Sun is walking in the months before this time next year.


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