CTV Ottawa’s story on mismanagement at Pine View Golf Course has put members of the board on the defensive.
The TV station got its hands on a draft copy of an auditor general’s examination of the 2008-2009 business years. The report apparently says there were questionable expenses on credit cards and even self-written cheques, leading auditor general Alain Lalonde to call for better oversight of the course.
There are six councillors on the golf course board, including Rainer Bloess, the former board chairman.
The leaked report prompted Bloess to provide an explanation to council this afternoon. Here it is:
Dear Council colleagues,
As you may know, a DRAFT copy of the Audit Report of the Pine View Golf course was made public yesterday while it is still being worked on by both the Pine View Golf Course Board and the Office of the Auditor General.
Typically, Board members, facility management and City of Ottawa staff are provided with a fair opportunity to review the audit findings, clarify any issues and provide a formal management response. Then, the AG finalizes the report with management’s response included in the report. Given that the report was leaked in advance of its finalization, I feel that all Council members should be given an overview of where we stand in relation to the AG’s audit.
On behalf of the Councillors who sit on the Board of the Pine View Golf Course, I want to remind my Council colleagues that the Board sought and welcomed this Audit, which identifies management practises primarily in 2008-2009 that required overhaul and significant improvements.
On September 1, 2011 – in the course of its normal business – the Board met to consider and ultimately accept the AG’s recommendations. Further, the Board has worked over the last six months to implement a number of recommendations which we had received from the Auditor General. Each and every outstanding issue pertaining to financial management has been addressed by the Board.
Further, we expect that all of the AG’s recommendations to strengthen management practises at the Pine View Golf Course will have been fully implemented by the Fall of 2011.
As the Ward Councillor and former Chair of the Board, I am best positioned to respond to any additional questions you may have, keeping in mind that the Auditor General has not yet finalized his report and I am respecting his process. Therefore, the DRAFT report will not be released until such time as the Auditor General brings forward his final report in accordance with his processes and procedures.
It is my understanding that the AG is planning to expedite the release of his final report, likely in October.
Mayor Jim Watson released a written statement on the matter.
“I am fully supportive of the position that the board has taken and pleased that they have accepted all of the recommendations in the auditor general’s draft report,” Watson says in the statement. “The financial management issues of 2008 and 2009 have all been resolved. I look forward to seeing the auditor general’s final report in October and I’m confident the board will implement all the recommendations.”
There has been a big debate about whether municipalities should be in the business of owning golf courses. Proponents say city-owned courses provide a cheaper option for golfers who love the recreational activity, while opponents say courses are better managed by companies in the golf business.
No doubt we’ll be keeping a closer eye on Pine View.