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Performance audit of Vancouver Park Board outlines gaps in revenue management

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In a first of its kind report, the City of Vancouver’s auditor general has conducted a performance audit of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.

The report, authored by auditor general Mike Macdonell, analyzed revenue management at the park board, looking at its fee structures and other services. https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/2023-park-board-revenue-management-audit-report.pdf

According to the report, Macdonell determined, “that while some processes were used to inform fee-setting, the park board did not operate an effective framework for achieving revenue-related objectives for its revenue-generating assets and services.”

“We didn’t see a robust process for understanding the full costs of delivering park board services or understanding the level of services that were going to be delivered,” Macdonell told CTV News.

The audit covered a five-year period between January 2018 and June 2023. During that time, the park board collected an average of $56.3 million yearly from fees and charges.

Macdonell’s audit found that while some facilities and services are provided at no or low cost, in other areas, the park board seeks to recover costs either in full or partly.

“However, setting the fees necessary to achieve cost recovery objectives requires the park board to have a comprehensive understanding of both the intended levels of service and the full costs to deliver those services,” Macdonell said. “We found this understanding was incomplete.”

Macdonell said the park board is dependent on city council for approving expenditures, and therefore was expecting to see a more proactive engagement process than was actually in place.

Former Vancouver city councillor George Affleck said the park board has been constrained fiscally in the past by previous councils.

“This performance audit really shows us how dysfunctional the park board has been,” he said.

Park board vice-chair Brennan Bastyovanszky said the report's findings will help inform the board with a better framework for setting fees in the future.

“There was always going to be areas of improvement,” he said. “That’s not a surprise to anybody.”

According to Macdonell, based on the deficiencies, six recommendations were made, such as improving the board’s engagement with city council, and assisting it with its revenue management processes.

Bastyovanszky said park board staff have approved all six recommendations.

He added that the board will make its final decision on the auditor general’s report Monday.

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