Issues surrounding $90,000 in
provincial and RDOS grant money
used in Hedley to build a washroom
and storage facility in 2010,
prompted the Regional District to
make changes to its grants policy
The problems with the washrooms
date back to 2007 when
the Hedley Community Club,
under Elef Christensen applied and
received funding for a multi-purpose
The facility was to be located
next to the community’s outdoor
rink and would be wheelchair
accessible and include concessions,
change rooms, washrooms and
showers. Instead the community
received a small block washroom
and a separate storage facility.
The project received a $45,000
provincial LocalMotion grant that
was matched by the Regional
out of its gas tax funding.
When Christensen and the
Hedley Community Club received
the funding, Christensen was not an
Area director. But, he was elected
as Area G director in fall 2008.
The construction of the buildings
were completed in 2010 while
he was director.
Christensen lost his bid for reelection
in 2011. He was re-elected
in 2014 as Area G director.
Paperwork the Review has
obtained shows that Christensen
under his gold mining equipment
shop, Misty Mountain Gift Shop
billed the project more than $2,000
for his own services.
The Penticton Herald filed a
Freedom of Information request
regarding the project and reported
this week that Christensen was paid
$1,900 for managing the project
and $755 for his own labour.
Documents also showed that
three toilets had been billed to
the project but that only one was
The Review attempted to reach
Christensen before deadline we
were told he was out of town at the
Christensen has admitted he
took a fee for the project in the past.
While under fire from questioning
taxpayers, Christensen did
admit to personally receiving funds
from the project at an all-candidates
meeting in October 2014 shortly
before the last municipal election.
He provided no other details.
“It was a longtime ago and I
don’t remember,” he said to the
audience that night while being
grilled about the project.
Bill Newell, CAO for the
RDOS said the project was never
the responsibility of the RDOS
although the Regional District
wrote the cheques.
“Our role was to simply pay
out on the invoices we received,”
Newell said the project was
under review in 2014 but that the
file has since been closed.
“We checked the invoices to
make sure we had an invoice for
each payment and we did,” he said.
Newell said the RDOS gives
out a variety of grants throughout
the year to groups and the RDOS
provides oversight to none.
“Really it’s the responsibility of
the agency to use the funds effectively,”
Mark Pendergraft, chair of
the Regional District Okanagan-
Similkameen said it is not common
for area directors or volunteers to
charge a consulting fee on projects.
“My personal view is that I
would not want to put myself in
that position where you are charging
a consultant fee when you are
an area director,” he said during a
phone interview Tuesday morning.
“I have to say it is not a common
process by any means. Not that I’m
aware of locally.”
Pendergraft said he didn’t think
Christensen meant to do anything
“untoward,” to taxpayers but rather
didn’t consider the optics of charging
them for his services on the
“I don’t believe it was done with
any sort of intent to rip someone
off. If anything it would just be
done not thinking things through.
You would really have to speak to
him about his motives,” he said.
Pendergraft said he didn’t think
the project would have any longterm
ramifications for the Hedley
Community Club requesting funds
in the future but that it did influence
changes made to the RDOS
“Well, I think it kind of put
the icing on the cake. (We were)
always wondering on how to deal
with issues of money with groups…
There’s been concerns in the past
and (the Hedley project) did not
help the situation,” he said.
The new policy means gas tax
money is for the most part to be
used on RDOS owned and operated
facilities to ensure projects are
completed as proposed and money
is being used properly.
The provincial LocalMotion
project handed out in 2007 came
under scrutiny by then Auditor-
General John Doyle because there
were no records to review to ensure
projects met criteria and were executed