The cost overruns surrounding the George Street Parkade continues to be in the spotlight.

Mayor Lyn Hall and the rest of city council held a closed-door meeting last night (Tuesday) on the topic.

The parkade was approved in tandem with a housing project in 2017 with an original planned cost of $12.6 million – however, the price tag has now ballooned to over 34-million dollars.

Brian Skakun (Photo supplied by City of Prince George)

Councillor, Brian Skakun plans to leave no stone unturned and would like the RCMP to investigate.

“I want an outside agency to come in, talk to potential witnesses and find out what is going on. Right now, the only thing that we have to go by is what some people have said as well as some emails. Council has to support that in order for it to happen, including Mayor Hall.”

Earlier this year, the Prince George Citizen publicized a chain of communication dating back to the summer of 2018 that included Hall and city officials stating the parkade was unlikely to come within budget.

“I think at that time had Mayor Hall looked into it and reported it to council we would have been able to stop the project, control the costs better and hold the administration accountable. Looking in the rear-view mirror right now is difficult because the costs are what they are.”

“I was astounded (the Citizen knew first) because the council and the mayor should be the first ones to see this information and take action. Anytime you have to have the media, which I appreciate them doing FOI’s but for them to get the information first and then council finding is totally ass backwards if you will,” added Skakun.

Garth Frizzell | City of Prince George

However, fellow city councillor Garth Frizzell continues to stand by Hall even with the swirling speculation.

“He has confirmed and has given solid evidence that’s not the case (regarding the fact whether or not he knew of the overruns in 2018). I trusted him, I checked and I trust him still. He is one of the most conscientious people I know and that kind of speculation doesn’t help get to the bottom of things.”

Even if the price tag was much less than 34-million dollars, Frizzell believes the city would not have been able to prevent all of the stumbling blocks.

“It would not have changed the fact Donald Trump put a tariff on steel, it wouldn’t have changed the fact we went through the largest building boom in the city’s history. The costs skyrocketed and who knows we may have been able to make choices and that’s the issue.”

Frizzell also outlined some of the steps being taken by the city to ensure this situation never happens again including reducing the spending authority to $100,000 for the City Manager as well as a whole host of other potential criteria that will come back to the council in the near future.

“The process goes on and the work is getting done. The mayor is taking a strong lead on this and we are uncovering lots of more details, the process needs to be transparent and it will be.”

The City of Prince George provided the following update on the city’s review of the project:

This review has been underway for two months and Council anticipates sharing the results with residents by the end of April.

Council appreciates and shares the interest of the citizens of Prince George in this matter. It is important for citizens to understand what happened, why it happened, and what we are doing to make sure it does not happen again. Council also thanks residents for their patience while this thorough and comprehensive review is completed.

We confirm the City of Prince George is undertaking the following actions:

  • A legal review of the parkade project to understand fully where it went wrong and why and to provide recommendations for processes to ensure this does not happen again.
  • A legal review of our current delegated authority, including the revised Sustainable Finance Guidelines, to ensure it is accurate and to minimize the risk to the City.
  • The development of a whistleblower policy that ensures all city employees and elected officials have a clear, confidential roadmap to bring their concerns forward.
  • Options for an internal or external auditor to review capital project processes.