Spending at the Thompson-Nicola Regional District
Jessica Wallace, Christopher Foulds, Tim Shoults
When this small independent weekly was tipped off, all in one day, that a member of the regional district council had taken paid leave, then vacation, then resigned and finally ‘retired’, they sought to clear up the confusion — only to encounter a wall of official silence. But the KTW team of Jessica Wallace, Christopher Foulds and Tim Shoults would not be denied answers to their questions. They began to pursue the money trail; conducting dozens of interviews, filing dozens of Freedom of Information requests, and ultimately creating a database that detailed five years of questionable spending of taxpayer resources. Their stories resulted in major policy changes tightening district oversight on everything from grants and sponsorships to catering and dining; the launching of an RCMP criminal investigation, and an independent forensic audit that only confirmed KTW’s findings. The journalists conducted their investigation at a time when they were pressed to cover other major stories: the pandemic, B.C. wildfires, and a federal election. If civic governance is the bedrock of democracy, then the independent work done by this newsroom is an outstanding example of the bedrock of journalism.