Edmonton mayoral candidate Watson racks up big food and hotel spending at city work
Edmonton mayoral candidate Cheryll Watson spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on expensive restaurants and hotels during her tenure as the head of Innovate Edmonton.
The Western standard obtained the details of Watson’s claims in an access to information request.
Documents show that between 2017 and 2020, Innovate Edmonton under Watson spent $ 229,286 on items such as guest dinners and over $ 40,000 to access the SXSW Music Festival.
Innovate Edmonton is a subsidiary of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation.
Watson declined repeated requests for comment from Western standard. She finally told a reporter that she would respond on Friday.
A total of $ 48,125.40 in expenses was filed by Watson, including $ 12,928.65 for furniture in December of the same year.
A total of $ 31,868.04 of expenses were filed by Watson, including:
• $ 970 for a dinner at Butternut Tree in Edmonton with TrendWatching presenters on March 15th.
• 728.28 for a dinner at Sorrentini’s in Edmonton for a dinner with Dr. Mathais Ruth from the University of Alberta.
• $ 1,205.40 on October 10 at Uccellino in Edmonton on July 23.
• $ 4,890.18 at the Craft Beer Market in Edmonton on October 10 for the Singularity U launch dinner.
• $ 6,001 to Ikea for office furniture on October 25.
A total of $ 83,896 in expenses, including:
• $ 1,901 for three bedrooms at the luxurious Banff Springs Hotel on June 7th.
• $ 2,011 for eight rooms at the Fairmont Edmonton Macdonald on November 19 and 20
• $ 10,664.94 for the installation of a booth at the Collision Conference in Mississauga.
• $ 1,630 for a working breakfast on June 6 at the Pallister Hotel in Calgary.
• $ 5,761 at the Mercer Tavern in Edmonton for the Mercer Block Party.
• $ 5,222.58 at the Sabor restaurant in Edmonton for AI Accelerator investors.
• $ 3,635.31 at the Revel Bistro and Bar in Edmonton for a dinner with TechStars
A total of $ 65,397.47 in expenses, including:
• $ 5,271 for a dinner on December 10 at the Revel for Women in Technology event
• $ 40,000 for access to the SXSW festival on February 21, to be used next year as it was canceled in 2020.
One of the elements of the Watson platform includes the creation of a “Chief Accountability Officer”.
EEDC’s mandate is to “promote economic development” in the capital city of Alberta.
Watson’s spending raised eyebrows for Kevin Lacey, Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
“Taxpayers should expect people working in publicly funded agencies to treat taxpayer money as their own and not go spending spree,” Lacey said.
“The question taxpayers should ask themselves is, if you can’t control the spending of your own agency, how would you control the spending of the entire municipal government.
“Innovate Edmonton should do its job. There will be expenses associated with it, but taxpayers should take a long, hard look at this list and ask themselves if they think they are reasonable.