Regional District of Nanaimo’s board struck down recommendations that would’ve provided a mileage allowance for board members and volunteers who walk or bike to meetings.
RDN directors who drive to meetings are currently compensated at a rate of 58 cents per kilometre. However, the RDN executive committee asked for a staff report on compensation for non-motorized transportation (i.e. bicycle, walking), which would come via remuneration bylaw amendments. According to the report, they would provide “for an equivalent mileage rate for alternative means of transportation” and would be income and taxed by the Canadian Income Tax Act, dependent on a person’s annual total income.
Usage of non-motor vehicles is supported in the RDN’s latest strategic plan and regional growth strategy, which both have environmental objectives.
While the amendments were defeated at the RDN’s July 23 board meeting, there were directors who spoke both for and against.
Teunis Westbroek, RDN Qualicum Beach director, was supportive.
“The cost of paving roads and preparing parking stalls for cars and the greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles is a huge cost to society,” said Westbroek. “If somebody wants to walk or ride a bike or take the bus, I think we should encourage that,” said Westbroek.
Sheryl Armstrong, RDN Nanaimo director, said she was “very opposed” to the recommendations.
“The purpose basically for [Canada Revenue Agency] is for fuelage, it’s for tires, it’s for the extra insurance … and to say that I should be getting paid to walk, I think, is absolutely ludicrous. That’s my choice, if I choose to do it,” said Armstrong. “If we’re going to look at that, then I think it should be pro-rated because no bikes require insurance. They don’t require the same amount of maintenance, they don’t require gas.”
Westbroek, along with directors Tyler Brown and Leonard Krog voted in favour while other directors voted against.