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 Gordon Head Recreation Centre stands in as the Quimper Regional Hospital on Feb. 23 for filming Maid, a 10-part Netflix series. (Greg Sutton/District of Saanich)
Netflix transforms Saanich recreation centre into hospital for filming

Facility was closed to public Feb. 23 for filming of Maid

Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fighting fire a family affair for Colwood Assistant Chief Greg Chow

With 38 years of service, Greg Chow is the 2021 Hero of the Year

This rendering shows plans for the new “flyover”overpass connecting northbound traffic on Highway 17 heading west on Keating Cross Road. Plans currently seeking public input propose two options for the median along Keating Cross Road. Option 1 will prevent left turns onto Tamany Drive and Buena Vista Road. Option 2 (seen here)will allow for left turns onto Tamany Drive and Bujena Vista Road. (Screencap/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Public asked for comment on proposed overpass for Pat Bay in Central Saanich

New flyover overpass proposed for Highway 17 and Keating Cross Road

Various Victoria locations were hit with a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti Wednesday. This image has been altered to cover up profane language. (Submitted photo)
UPDATED: Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti an ‘unacceptable’ form of communication says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

A 19-year-old man is in police custody following a recent violent robbery and assault in Comox . (File photo)
Arrest made in violent robbery and assault of Comox gas station employee

19-year-old man in police custody after incident where woman was putting things in her car

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Most Read