Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I am so happy, Provincial Government says it will disolve the Provincial Capital Commission

For years now I have disliked the existence of the Provincial Capital Commission in Victoria and the National Capital Commission in Ottawa.   Both bodies are unneeded and unaccountable quangos.  Today Bill Bennett announced that as part of the 2013 core services review the BC government will dissolve the PCC.

The PCC has had a mandate to "improve the capital" and somehow get people in the rest of the province to be aware of the capital.   Somehow I do not think people in the rest of BC are unaware of Victoria and the local tourism industry does a good enough job promoting the city.

The PCC has cost about $1,000,000 a year according to the core services review, but does this take into account the rents charged to various levels of government?   When I look at the annual report of the PCC I am not sure how the $1,000,000 figure is arrived at.

The offices of the PCC take up a full two storey building on Pandora Street.   The PCC has a board of 14 members who meet 7 times a year in person.  I do not know if the board members are paid an honorarium for being at meetings or if their travel expenses are paid.  Corporate governance and support costs the PCC about $400,000 - based on how they report their figures, I assume that all the administrative costs for the properties do not come under that heading.

In Victoria the PCC owns a number of properties but what they own and how it is used defies any sense of a plan or purpose.
  • St Ann's Academy - used as government offices so the PCC has been collecting rent from the province
  • The CPR Steamship Terminal Building - leased to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority 
  • Crystal Garden - operated as part of the Victoria Convention Centre and I assume that the City of Victoria has to pay some form of rent
  • 812 Wharf Street - this overlooks the inner harbour at the corner of Government and Wharf
  • 613 Pandora Street - across the street from City Hall and next door to CFAX.  It bring in no revenue because it is used as the offices for the PCC
  • Stores Building - it used to be owned by Transport Canada but they gave it to the PCC.  It is located at the west end of the parking lot for the Coho and I have no idea what the building is used for but it looks underused to my eye.
  • Inner Harbour - the PCC owns the land where the Coho docks.   It also owns the parking lots off of Wharf Street to the north of the float plane terminal.   I have no idea why the PCC needs to own parking lots.   It also owns some land around the Northern Junk buildings, they make actually own the small park there
  • Glencoe Cove Park - this is park of a larger park managed by Saanich
  • Cuthbert Holmes Park - managed by Saanich
  • Thetis Lake park - there is a chunk sort of between Thetis Lake and Mill Hill that is owned by the PCC
  • Rogers Elementary - the PCC owns land that is effectively part of the school grounds I have been corrected, part of the land has been sold and has houses now and the other part is fenced off from the school
  • Goldstream Park area - the PCC owns a lot of land near the eastern end of the Goldstream Park and along the highway.

Map of PCC owned lands in Langford
the map is from 2003 and may not be accurate but it is the current map on the PCC website
Here is what the PCC does not own that one would expect they might own:
  • The Legislature
  • Government House
  • The Royal BC Museum
  • Craigflower Manor and School
  • Emily Carr House
  • Point Ellice House
If the PCC was actually supposed to be 'enhancing' the capital, why did no provincial government put these major provincial heritage sites under it's control?

The single most important aspect of a capital region is the actual parliamentary building but this is in no way under the PCC.  But even if it were under the PCC I still would favour the end of the PCC.   We have Heritage Branch in the provincial government, the CRD and various local governments that can do everything the PCC was doing but only in a more open manner.   As to promotion of the City, this is a job for the private sector and not government.
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