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LETTER: Local governments should distance themselves from lobbyists

(Black Press Media file photo)

On Sept. 12, 2023 at the View Royal council committee of the whole, a spokesperson for the Urban Development Institute Capital Region, told View Royal council during public input: “UDI is not a lobbying group.”

Not only is the UDI a legally registered lobbying group, according to the BC Lobbyists Registry and the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists, but the spokesperson, who said they are not a lobbying group, is actually registered on that registry, as their “in-house lobbyist.”

Being considered that night on the agenda was that the Township of View Royal had joined the Urban Development Institute, as a paying member early that year, without the elected officials having been informed of that decision.

Informed afterward with the evidence that the UDI is a registered lobbying group, the issue was triggered to appear again. It did so at the Nov. 14, 2023 View Royal committee of the whole, at which the mayor and councillors determined that the spokesperson’s comments were not accurate, that the UDI is not only registered as a lobbyist organization, but also that they are indeed a lobby, and that in light of the new information regarding it, that they should terminate View Royal’s membership with the UDI effective immediately, in a unanimous decision.

The District of Saanich also unanimously voted to discontinue its membership with the UDI earlier in 2023, yet it maintains collaboration with it through unrecorded meetings that are closed to the general public between staff and lobbyists through what are called “UDI-Municipal Liaison Sub-committee” meetings, and the district still offers councillors a $500 annual allowance to be ‘educated’ at the lobby if they so choose.

The CRD and some local governments remain paying members of the lobby, as well as Crown corporations and statutory entities.

Question: How are branches of the government of British Columbia acting in good faith to the public they are supposed to represent, by collaborating with, funding, having memberships in, and partnering with a registered lobbying group, especially when their spokesperson/in-house lobbyist has publicly denied to the government that they are a lobbying group?

Sasha Izard


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