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Climate change has been identified as one of the defining challenges of our time. The impacts of a warming climate and extreme weather events are already being felt in Canada and are forecast to become more severe and more frequent. At the same time, Canada has missed two separate emission reduction targets (the 1992 Rio target and the 2005 Kyoto target) and is likely to miss the 2020 Copenhagen target as well.
Canada’s auditors general agreed to work together to collaboratively examine government responses to climate change. This report is made possible by the substantial work of legislative audit offices across Canada and is the first time that nearly all legislative audit offices in Canada have coordinated their work in this way. The participating audit offices worked together to develop a set of common questions related to mitigating and adapting to climate change.
Overall, we found that actions taken by governments to date to address climate change across the country have fallen short of the governments’ commitments. This report identifies a number of key issues that exist in many jurisdictions across the country and provides critical questions that may be useful to consider as governments across Canada move forward on their climate change commitments.
Over the past year, the Office received a number of queries and requests about land transactions related to the Global Transportation Hub Authority (the GTH) and the Regina Bypass Project. These requests included Cabinet’s February 9, 2016 request (and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts’ support thereof) for the Office to “examine whether the Government of Saskatchewan followed appropriate procedures and received appropriate value” in the GTH’s purchase of two separate parcels of land. In this Report, the Office refers to these as the East Parcels.
In response, the Office did two audits concurrently about processes to acquire land— one of the GTH’s processes to buy land from the private sector (3rd parties) for the transportation logistics hub, and one of the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure’s processes to buy land to construct the Regina Bypass—a major highway improvement project.
In both audits, the Office found not enough was done to buy land in a financially responsible way. Delays in buying land the GTH viewed as essential for its commercial success (the East Parcels) and the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure’s practice of not buying land until it finalized the route and design of the highway improvement exposed taxpayers to paying for increased land values. The Office recommends the Government explore alternate approaches to optimize the timing of land acquisitions for major public improvement projects (like the Regina Bypass Project).