The Regional District of Nanaimo’s board has approved a pay raise in time for the new year.
According to a staff report, directors are currently compensated with a base rate of $13,962. Rural area directors receive an additional $11,532 and the board chairman an additional $20,471.
The district will implement the first of a two-phase increase in January, when directors will receive base compensation of $15,000, rural directors an additional $14,000 and the chairman an additional $38,000. In November, after municipal elections, both base rate and electoral area compensation will increase to $17,000, while chairperson remuneration will increase to $48,000.
Remuneration monies come from legislative services and electoral area administration tax requisitions and Phase 1 will cost an estimated $95,000 annually, while the second phase is estimated at $69,000 annually.
The previous board requested a review prior to the 2018 election and Sainas Consult Inc. was enlisted to compile a report comparing similar-sized districts, including Cowichan Valley Regional District, cities of Nanaimo and Kelowna and Corporation of Delta.
Bill Veenhof, RDN board chairman, said he was surprised by where Nanaimo regional district stood. On average, according to the consultant’s report, board chairs who are rural directors receive $71,608, rural area directors, $44,387 and municipal directors, $20,025. The new remuneration represents an average, he said, and the RDN tried to find a balance.
Veenhof also said it may attract new politicians, particularly those who are younger, as he feels current rates aren’t sustainable.
“If they already had a job that they needed to be at, it just wouldn’t work, so you end up with a board of retirees,” said Veenhof. “I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about my board members, but they represent a perspective that doesn’t necessarily fully reflect the community. So I’d really like to see a compensation package that younger people can look at and say, ‘Yeah, I can run and if I get in, I can afford to be a politician,’ and as it is right now, young people cannot do that.”
Directors Teunis Westbroek (Qualicum Beach), Jerry Hong (Nanaimo) and Kirk Oates (Parksville) voted against the remuneration increase-related motion at the RDN Dec. 12 regular meeting.
At the meeting, Westbroek said candidates shouldn’t be attracted for the money, but because they want to contribute to the community.
“I talked to the mayor of Tofino the other day, the mayor of Tofino is a pretty busy girl. I think her stipend is $25,000. I’m not sure how I can justify all these numbers that are in here,” Westbroek said.
Under the new remuneration regime, the vice-chairperson will be compensated $175 for every meeting he or she stands in for the chairperson. Committee chairpeople will be compensated $175 for every meeting they moderate and alternate directors will receive $125 for meetings attended.