It's funny how every time politicians cook up a big new project extensive travel is required for research. A recent example is when Ontario politicians were looking into voting reform they felt the need to personally visit countries with different voting systems than ours despite the fact that taxpayers pay political scientists to study this stuff to death.
The most recent example is from Richmond, BC:
VANCOUVER -- Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie is happy to explain why citystaff, volunteers and politicians have taken 16 trips since 2004 to research the Olympic skating oval being built for the 2010 Winter Games.
In a report to council, the tally for the 16 trips to various cities totalled just under $500,000.
"I'm prepared to justify it and give explanation for the money spent," Mr. Brodie said yesterday. "The oval is our project so we had to do the analysis and the investigation to see what it is we want to have for our city. At the outset, we knew there would be a number of trips that were necessary."
Richmond beat Burnaby in the competition for the speed-skating oval to build the $155-million rink originally planned for Simon Fraser University. The city aims to complete the rink, Richmond's biggest infrastructure project to date, by 2007.
Mr. Brodie said he has heard of residents' concerns about the massive project and the associated costs.
But he believes it has been worthwhile for staff and politicians to take trips to sites of past Winter Olympics such as Calgary, Salt Lake City, Lillehammer and Turin, site of the 2006 Winter Games.
Last year, Richmond spent $185,998 on travel expenses, and this year the travel costs for staff, politicians and volunteers with various committees totalled $273,899.
Consultants and contracts for the city's Olympic oval business cost $226,277, almost double last year's total of $99,460. The biggest year-over-year increase was in the meetings and special-event expenses, which increased tenfold from $3,026 to $36,784.