Parksville council voted unanimously to approve a pay raise for the city’s mayor and councillors.
Coun. Doug O’Brien made a motion at the May 22 regular meeting to direct staff to create a bylaw that allows for an annual remuneration of the mayor’s salary to $52,500 and councillors to $30,000.
Prior to the new raise, Parksville councillors were paid an annual remuneration, including expenses, of $16,929 and the mayor made $40,941.
Comparing annual council remuneration in communities in B.C. with a population of 10,000 to 24,999, the average pay is $22,159 for councillors and $56,436 for mayors. Qualicum Beach councillors recently voted themselves a raise to $46,000 for the mayor and $34,500 for councillors.
“The figure I arrived at was based on similar-sized communities on Vancouver Island,” O’Brien said. “We didn’t take the high, we didn’t take the low… we are the average.”
Coun. Adam Fras said he was in support of the motion because he wanted to encourage a living wage.
“City of Parksville is one of the only communities I know of that has a living wage policy in place for all of our staff here and this position (council) is the only one that doesn’t line up with that,” Fras said. “The issue of remuneration throughout elected officials, I think all over B.C… is one that a lot of different municipalities are looking at and realizing they’re not afforded the ability to do the job to the level that they would like to.”
Fras added that barriers need to be removed so that “everyone in the community who would like to be a representative” can afford to do so.
Coun. Al Greir concurred with Fras, adding that it will probably require a higher pay to get “the best people” to be interested in becoming elected officials.
“If we want to get young people involved and good people involved, then we are going to have to pay more or we won’t get them,” Greir said.
Following suit, mayor Ed Mayne agreed it is important to attract young people to council, therefore he supports a pay raise.
“When you walk down the aisle to my office, there’s a wall of pictures and probably 10 per cent of those pictures are (people) under the age of 60 and the rest are people that look like me,” Mayne said. “Based on that, if you want to bring young people to this town, to represent this town, than you have to pay it.”
Mayne added that a pay raise would help balance wages that could potentially be lost from a councillor’s day job if they had a council priority.
“I watch the younger people in our group, around this table, for which we have the very best council we’ve ever had in Parksville and probably the best on the Island as far as I’m concerned, but when you look at it and know as a fact they either have to go without the wage of their normal day job or they have to work extra hours somewhere else to make it up, it’s not being fair,” Mayne said. “You’re busting your butt doing your councillor work and then you have to bust your butt at work to make up for the hours. If you want the young people you’ve got to pay for it, and that for me is the only reason I’m going to vote for this and support it.”
Coun. Mark Chandler said since he got elected, he hasn’t been interested in a pay raise, but realizing the time constraint and busy schedules for members of council he believes it’s valuable to look at an increase.
“I feel that it is definitely worthy for many of the councillors here that spend a tremendous amount of time. I had no idea how much time was involved,” Chandler said. “Realizing there’s meetings galore, there’s all kinds of different stuff, there’s tons of reading so I feel it’s very worthy to look at an increase.”
Chandler added that although he’s very involved as a councillor, he doesn’t believe he needs the extra money.
“What I do with the money will be something towards the community,” he said. “It’s not something I’m going to pocket and use, and over the next four years I’ll put it into something that’s worthwhile.”