Skip to content

Victoria governance consultant faces provincial probe over its B.C. grants role

City commissioned MNP to provide recommendations on improving local processes
The consultant that conducted a governance review for Victoria is being investigated by the province after it was accused of offering to write grant proposals for the same provincial programs it was administrating. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto declined to comment Tuesday (April 16) on allegations facing the consultant that provided her city with a suite of recommendations on how to improve its governance.

B.C.’s capital city has made a number of governance changes that spawned from a review Victoria commissioned MNP to conduct. That governance review was completed in the summer of 2022 and focused on five broad topics, including: the role of council, decision-making processes, public access to council, advisory committees and transparency and accountability.

A report Victoria council received last December said 23 of the governance review’s 30 recommendations had been considered complete. Some of those changes included the city implementing a council code of conduct, allowing the public to raise issues at certain meetings even if that subject isn’t on the agenda, updating technology to allow the public to address council via video and reviewing how committee of the whole meetings function.

MNP, which describes itself as a leading professional services firm in Canada, has been at the centre of controversy lately after it’s been accused of offering to write grant proposals for the same provincial programs it was administrating. The allegations claimed MNP would receive a 20-per-cent success fee if the funding was approved.

After B.C. opposition parties and a Merritt-based electric semi-truck company raised questions about the accounting and consultancy firm’s practises, the ruling B.C. NDP ordered an investigation into MNP’s role in administering two provincial programs.

“We are aware of an allegation that one of our teams working in the province of B.C. in our grant management service line acted in the capacity as both the administrator and grant application consultant on the CleanBC grant program,” MNP said in an April 8 statement. “These allegations are false and misleading.”

Many companies provide grant administration and writing services to assist clients, the firm said, noting it has policies and procedures that prohibit team members from providing those writing services for the programs it runs.

Energy Minister Josie Osborne ordered the investigation after receiving what she described as “new information” from an undisclosed source about the accounting firm and its role in administering the Commercial Vehicle Innovation Challenge and the Advanced Research and Commercialization grants.

READ MORE: B.C. government orders investigation into carbon tax grant process

MNP said it welcomed the province’s review and noted third parties like itself are needed by small- and medium-sized businesses that don’t have the resources to pursue grants.

The Victoria governance review also recommended reviewing council pay levels once per term so that any needed adjustments can be made in time for when the next elected council takes over. It also proposed maintaining current remuneration levels pending the completion of a comprehensive review by an independent task force.

Council recently paused the process of giving its members a raise this term after being criticized for the decision, and it fulfilled MNP’s call by striking a task force to conduct a review. The task force is set to deliver its findings by mid-summer.

With files from Wolf Depner

READ MORE: Victoria council pauses pay raise, strikes task force for advice

READ MORE: Victoria Pedicab Company celebrates James Bay with free rides

Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
Read more