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

The construction zone remains for now at Clover Point, but plans for a new pedestrian zone and partially closed traffic loop were approved by Victoria councillors on Thursday. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria council compromises with partial closure of Clover Point

Option preserves parking 14 spots facing ocean, creates more pedestrian space

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong winds predicted for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issues warning for Thursday afternoon

Don Devenney is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Community Builder of the year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore volunteer’s efforts an exercise in adventurous pursuits

Don Devenney is the 2021 recipient of the Community Builder Award

Sergeant Francis Dion with the box containing HMCS Calgary’s new secret mascot costume. (HMCSNCSMCalgary/Facebook)
(Black Press Media file photo)
Trees Cannabis to reignite downtown Victoria location as licensed store

The dispensary will reopen its 230 Cook St. location on Saturday

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Most Read