Agree or disagree with Kervin’s Corner? Write a letter to the editor at editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish it online and in print.

Kervin’s Corner: Mayor’s motion for 5.88 per cent remuneration increase is a reasonable request

For taxpayer’s it translates to 0.21% of the total 4% increase in property tax this year.

Derek Koel wrote a hard-hitting Port McNeill in Focus column last week about municipal remuneration in Port McNeill, and it may ring true for our town as well.

In Port Hardy, Bylaw 1083-2018 (A bylaw to provide for the payment of council member remuneration and expenses) was put up for first, second and third readings in the council chambers on June 26.

Port Hardy’s Remuneration Committee presented recommendations to mayor and council for a proposed 5.88 per cent increase in remuneration, meaning a roughly $2,000 increase of the mayor’s regular salary if it’s approved in further readings. These recommendations were made to accomodate for the recent changes in federal legislation, Bill C-34, where elected officials – municipal included – are to lose non-accountable allowances. Simply put, non-accountable allowances are those of which government officials do not need to submit receipts or justify their spending.

With that in mind, the committee’s reasoning behind such a recommendation was “to find a base earning where the proposed net pay would be equivalent to that under the upcoming Bill C-34”, according to the minutes of the regular council meeting a few weeks ago. They also commented that the wages right now are hovering around the provincial average.

Councillors Pat Corbett-Labatt, Dennis Dugas and Fred Robertson were opposed to this motion; however, I believe it’s a reasonable increase. For taxpayer’s it translates to 0.21 per cent of the total four per cent increase in property tax this year. In fact, mayor and council are completely justified in raising the tax base for their salary. They already make barely enough as it is – it’s hardly a living wage.

The mayor earns roughly $25,221.96 a year while councillors are entitled to $12,661.04. It’s clear that these elected officials sitting in local government care for our community, despite the complete lack of financial incentive.

The increase doesn’t necessarily benefit the council, anyway. In fact, it’s only being proposed so that their earnings can stay the same for next year, so without the non-accountable allowance they’d take a cut in wages. It’s certainly not to line their pockets.

But this brings up an entirely different question. Do mayor and council earn enough as it is? I’d argue not.

These elected officials are typically business people, taking time away from family and small businesses to try and make an impact on Port Hardy during their tenure. They are usually qualified for high earnings if they chose it, but instead, they many volunteer unpaid hours which is often the case for such a position.

What if council members were paid higher? Not only does it give incentive for extensive effort in municipal affairs, but it also attracts a wider variety of candidates with vastly different life and professional experience. All of which is good for our community.

So when Mayor Hank Bood proposed the remuneration increase, it certainly wasn’t out of self-interest. In my opinion, after the amount of years he’s spent in the mayoral position, he probably senses the amount of hours worked, time sacrificed from personal life and all of the unexpected, additional responsibilities that come along with it, warrants an increase in wage for that position.

On a side note, the mayor’s situation was unfair. Councillors split the vote 3-3, forcing the mayor to decide what could possibly be his wages for the next four years, if he chooses to run again this fall.

Needless to say, he was forced into a corner. Not to mention it’s at best a hazy, gray area to play politics in – at least in terms of conflict of interest when he was deciding the incoming mayor’s remuneration coming into effect January 1. He could have potentially opted out of the vote to show good will to taxpayers, but how could he when the council forced him to cast the deciding vote? Regardless, whether it was the mayor or a councillor that had the deciding vote, the proposed remuneration increase was still justified.

Thomas Kervin is a recent political science alumnus from Simon Fraser University. He was born and raised in Port Hardy. He’s also a First Nations person who wants to address issues facing Indigenous communities today.

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

Just Posted

Hardy Bay Seniors’ Centre doubling down to build community during COVID-19

The volunteer-run group is cooking meals and checking in on isolated seniors

Three weekly direct flights from Port Hardy to Vancouver starting June 1

Direct between Bella Bella and Vancouver not resuming at this time

UPDATE: Local taxi company applying to opertate north island bus route

Waivin’ Flags Taxi wants to operate Route 5 between Cambpell River and Port Hardy

Change in service: Port Hardy is switching from bi-weekly garbage pick up to weekly schedule

The cost for the weekly garbage pick up service is an additional $30.12 annually.

Cancelling bus service between Campbell River and Port Hardy will compromise health access, region warns

Mount Waddington Health Network says transportation primary factor for rural health access

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

B.C. aquaculture farm’s employees sweat it out to raise funds for food banks

For every five minutes of exercise recorded, Cermaq Canada is donating a dollar to local food banks in communities they operate

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Stepdad able to walk bride down the aisle days before he passes away

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Most Read