Outgoing council Craig Speirs, Gordy Robson, Kiersten Duncan, Nicole Read, Corisa Bell, Tyler Shymkiw and Bob Masse. (Contributed)

Outgoing council Craig Speirs, Gordy Robson, Kiersten Duncan, Nicole Read, Corisa Bell, Tyler Shymkiw and Bob Masse. (Contributed)

Expenses in for outgoing Maple Ridge council

Amounts range from zero to $6,000

The expense account claims for the previous Maple Ridge council show a range from zero dollars to more than $6,000, spent in the first 10 months of this year.

And as he did last year, former councillor Craig Speirs, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in last month’s election, was the biggest spender, while former councillor Bob Masse spent the least.

Councillors are allowed a maximum of $5,000 each year to cover travel, hotel and fee expenses for attending meetings such as the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention or other conferences.

The mayor is allotted $6,500 per year.

Cellphone and iPad expenses are also covered under a separate budget, but are included in the overall expense totals. A new council was elected in the Oct. 20 civic election.

In the first 10 months of 2018, Speirs’s expenses totalled $6,098.

Speirs was the Maple Ridge council representative on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He was also a FCM director and attended its annual conference in May in Halifax, which cost $3,031.

He then attended another FCM board meeting in Nova Scotia in September, costing $2,146.

Another $3,500 a year in expenses is also allowed for councillors who sit on external agencies such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Speirs received authorization to access that to attend FCM meetings because he was on the board of directors.

Speirs, though, said all councillors should go to conferences, if they can find the time.

“You’re not going to learn anything hanging around Maple Ridge,” he said Tuesday.

“I actually went places and learned things. The others, not so much.”

He suggested that the new council should adopt a strategy to attend FCM, Lower Mainland Local Government Association and UBCM conferences.

Outgoing councillor Corisa Bell claimed the second-highest amount of expenses in 2018, at $4,951.

Just more than $3,000 of that went to pay for travel, accommodation and registration fees to attend the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September, while another $589 was spent attending the Lower Mainland Local Government Association meeting in May.

She also encouraged councillors to attend conferences to expand their knowledge, noting that politics is like any other industry where people attend conferences.

“I think it’s great that council members utilize their expense accounts for learning. I’ve always said it’s so important for us to be learning, and together with our colleagues from around the Lower Mainland and B.C., in order to achieve what the community needs, as we have many challenges going forward.”

She said that the previous council OK’d her motion to create an inter-governmental affairs committee that would figure out how best Maple Ridge could benefit from belonging to regional associations.

Coun. Kiersten Duncan’s expenses totalled $2,394, with $758 of that billed from attending the Local Government Leadership Academy conference and another $792 for attending the UBCM convention in September.

Former mayor Nicole Read only expensed cellphone and iPad charges totalling $623.

Masse had no expenses.

Coun. Gordy Robson’s expenses totalled $231, while outgoing councillor Tyler Shymkiw’s expenses were $158.