Delta Mayor Lois Jackson and Canadian Taxpayers Federation BC Director Jordan Bateman.

Metro may slash fees it pays politicians to attend events

Regional district mulls rule changes on meeting compensation

Metro Vancouver directors may soon be paid less to attend special events like conferences, conventions and seminars.

The mayors and councillors who serve on the regional district board now get at least $346 to compensate them for their time spent at authorized external meetings and for their travel time. The fee doubles to $692 if an event runs longer than four hours.

A Metro staff report recommends chopping the payment to a flat rate of $100 per day for time spent.

But directors at the finance committee were split recently on whether to go ahead with the change and have asked staff for more information.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said it might be a hardship for some directors who have professional jobs where they’re paid considerably more than $100 a day.

“Their time is valuable – it’s not throwaway time,” Jackson said.

Asked why directors should be paid more for such meetings by Metro Vancouver when they’re already paid a councillor’s or mayor’s salary from their own municipality, Jackson said appearing at conferences or seminars on behalf of Metro often requires considerable preparation.

“Do we just ask people to do everything for nothing?” she asked.

“We have to be careful we don’t turn so many people away from politics we end up with people who perhaps shouldn’t be there.”

The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation (CTF) this week called on five politicians to return more than $2,000 in meeting fees they collected for attending Metro’s Zero Waste Challenge conference Sept. 14.

Twenty non-elected speakers at the conference volunteered their time and waived fees, but $346 fees were paid to Jackson, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, Surrey Coun. Marvin Hunt and Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer. Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie received $692 for 7.5 hours of time spent.

“While the experts worked for free, our local politicians cashed in at anywhere from $92 to $230 per hour,” CTF B.C. Director Jordan Bateman said, adding the event cost Metro a total of nearly $100,000 in various rental, equipment and other costs.

“If only the Zero Waste in the title of this conference referred to our tax dollars. Unfortunately, our trash seems to get more care and attention than our money.”

Jackson accused Bateman of taking potshots at politicians to get publicity for the CTF while refusing to be transparent about his own pay.

“He can’t have it both ways,” she said. “I’m sure he doesn’t do what he does for nothing. I tried to Google it and it’s not there.”

If Metro’s board endorse the changes, staff will draw up a bylaw.

The proposed reduction would not apply to the fees directors get to attend regular Metro board and committee meetings.

Those meeting fees – also $346, doubling after four hours – have steadily risen due to a Metro policy of indexing them to the median of Metro mayors’ salaries.

When one or more cities raise their mayors’ pay, the regional fees have gone up as a result, and that has sometimes been used to justify more cities raising their mayoral salaries.

The staff report doesn’t suggest changing the formula, but notes cities have been reporting mayoral salaries inconsistently, some failing to include car allowances, for example.

All allowances should be included, it said, but the recalculation of Metro fees would only happen once every three years. In intervening years, the fees would be adjusted for inflation.

Metro directors received nearly $714,000 through meeting fees last year, plus $44,000 in travel expenses.

 

Just Posted

Coldest Night of the Year event Saturday

Salvation Army leads people in walk-a-thon for homeless and hungry in Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge begins community safety plan

Mayor says council elected with a “strong safety mandate”

Snow and ice leaving their mark on Maple Ridge roads

Public works wants to hear about potholes

Federal funding could finance Alouette fishway

Getting salmon back in to Alouette Lake goal of Maple Ridge conservation group

Maple Ridge Ramblers win girls B.C. wrestling team championship

Haintz leads the way with provincial gold, four others medal

Students give two thumbs up to no more B.C. student loan interest

Eliminating the loan interest charges could save the average graduate $2,300 over 10 years

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died: B.C. police watchdog

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Most Read