Greater Victoria municipalities inconsistent in reviewing elected officials’ salaries

Esquimalt’s Barb Desjardins explains discrepancy between her pay and that of other mayors

Mayor Barb Desjardins, performing official groundbreaking duties at Esquimalt Gorge Park in 2020, says doing regular reviews of salaries for mayor and councils would help municipalities stay current and avoid the need to play catchup. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)

Mayor Barb Desjardins, performing official groundbreaking duties at Esquimalt Gorge Park in 2020, says doing regular reviews of salaries for mayor and councils would help municipalities stay current and avoid the need to play catchup. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)

Comparing the salaries of mayors around the capital region can be a puzzling exercise for taxpayers.

The mayors of the two largest jurisdictions by population topped the remuneration list, based on most recent figures available, with Saanich’s Fred Haynes at $123,632 (2020 figure) and Victoria’s Lisa Helps totalling $133,794 (2019).

Coming in at No. 3, however, is Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins ($61,589 total, 2019), whose municipality is fifth-largest and within 1,500 residents of Oak Bay, Colwood and Central Saanich. Those mayors make, on average, $25,000 a year less.

Even Stew Young, mayor of the region’s third-largest and fastest growing municipality, Langford, came in about $16,500 less for 2019 at $45,035, although his pay will jump to $75,863 by 2024.

RELATED STORY: Esquimalt votes for pay hike for incoming council

All mayors except Young also sit on the Capital Regional District board. They receive $20,338 a year plus $110 per meeting, with between $3,000 and $6,000 added for chairing other boards or committees. The CRD board chair, currently Saanich Coun. Colin Plant, receives an extra $50,248 a year plus meeting pay.

Most municipalities use some version of the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ 2019 guide for council and board remuneration, which offers advice on external reviews, their frequency, comparisons to similar-sized jurisdictions and effectively communicating pay changes to the public after councils vote on the matter.

But not all local municipalities have entrenched mayor and council salary reviews in their policies as Esquimalt has. Since at least 2008 when she was first elected mayor, Desjardins said the township has undertaken independent reviews in the final year of a council term, with any increases starting the next term.

“There’s a need for consistency, and that is the challenge if you don’t do this on a regular basis,” she said, pointing out that salary reviews are done regularly for staff positions.

“The challenge of falling behind and then doing this kind of work, it’s going to show you are way out of whack. Then you have to justify a significant raise given the challenges of already trying to have people understand how you go about assessing appropriate remuneration.”

Acknowledging the roles of council members have become more complicated – COVID-19 and homelessness, for example, have local governments doing more social service work – Stan Bartlett, past-chair of Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria, said remuneration should be taken out of council hands.

Not having a standardized method of determining mayor and councillor salaries in B.C. doesn’t help with public understanding, he added.

RELATED STORY: Staff recommend major boost to Langford council pay

“The province should take over and a grid system be put in place,” Bartlett said, suggesting a more level playing field would remove a “keeping up” mentality.

“Retain the consumer price index annual increases and that’s it, none of this debate that detracts from the bigger issues.”


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

don.descoteau@blackpress.ca

Township of Esquimalt

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

The It’s Critical campaign has raised $5.89 million towards its $7 million goal to expand critical care capacity at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Critical care improvements make the list with Greater Victoria shoppers

Save-On-Foods pledges $300,000 to Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s It’s Critical campaign

West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities face a challenging future in terms of funding, due to reduced operations throughout the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore Parks and Recreation faces challenging future

West Shore Parks and Recreation Society submits 2021 budget request to owner municipalities

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after cancellations on Friday due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Most Read