News Views: Time of restraint

Municipal politicians from around the Lower Mainland were criticized for wasteful spending.

Three Maple Ridge councillors and the mayor of Pitt Meadows stayed in hotel rooms paid for by taxpayers while attending last weekend’s annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin also attended the convention, but did not stay at a hotel, instead driving home each evening to attend other municipal functions.

Municipal politicians from around the Lower Mainland were criticized of being wasteful for staying in what some consider luxury hotels, paid out of the public purse.

The Maple Ridge councillors stayed at the Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel. Their rooms were $135 a night; $501 for three days each; $1,503 all told.

The conference fee was $770 each, but that’s not at issue.

It’s the $1,500 hotel bill, which is a good portion of an average municipal tax bill for most.

While peanuts compared to the district’s multi-million-dollar annual budget, it’s still a lot of money to some. And an unnecessary expense to others – a perk that should no longer be extended given the never-ending annual tax increases of three per cent or more, and amid claims by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business that municipal spending is out of control.

The conference began with breakfast, covered in the conference fee, each day at 7 a.m. After seminars all day and an evening reception, the conference wrapped up each night by 11, according the Maple Ridge Coun. Robert Masse, one of the three who stayed at the hotel. He would have had to pay more for gas and parking, out of his own pocket, had he not, and defended his decision to do so.

We don’t disagree that the conference was beneficial to attend, for the seminars and networking, nor dispute having the fee covered by taxpayers.

But in times of restraint, when politicians tell taxpayers that they can’t cut anymore, how can they not see that spending our money on hotel rooms just 45 minutes from home is hypocritical?

At home and at work in recent years, many have had to learn to do more with less.

We’re asking our municipal politicians to do the same.


– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News