Park commissioner's rehab stint under scrutiny
Published Thursday, August 27, 2009 10:08PM PDT
A Vancouver Park Board commissioner should have been more forthcoming about her taxpayer-supported stay at a rehab facility on Bowen Island, critics say.
Constance Barnes confessed in June to making a "really stupid mistake" and promised to plead guilty and seek treatment after driving her car drunk into a south Vancouver home.
Barnes then took medical leave from the board and checked into the Orchard Recovery Centre on Bowen Island.
But what Barnes didn't disclose then or anytime afterwards was the fact that the city loaned her $3,000 to pay for her $18,000 treatment.
This week, when asked during a radio program whether she had paid for the treatment herself, she answered: "Absolutely."
Some opposition park board commissioners and other critics say there's nothing wrong with lending Barnes a hand, but taxpayers deserved to know they were chipping in.
"Since this whole drunk driving issue happened she's been very inconsistent and not transparent with the taxpayers of Vancouver," said Ian Robertson, a park board commissioner.
Mike Klassen, a local political blogger, said, "commissioners should have been transparent about that money instead of trying to hide it away and creating more suspicion about this story."
CTV was not able to reach Barnes on Thursday.
Ian Baillie, a Vision Vancouver spokesman, defended her.
"Let's be clear. This program is usually done in a confidential manner and this came out and that's fine, We're explaining the circumstances and what are the facts."
Party officials say Barnes received the same support as any civic employee. But because Barnes was elected, she has a right to some privacy.
Barnes is the daughter of the late Emery Barnes, one of the first black men elected to the B.C. legislature.
With files from CTV British Columbia's Stephen Smart