Five more Vancouver councillors heading to BC resort

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

10 comments

day at the spaThe LMLGA can be a gruelling affair as five Vancouver councillors will soon find out

It's that time of the year again when City staff bury into the council package a thin two-page report on who's been naughty and who's been nice. Well, in reality it's actually a report on the expense claims and salary of each Vancouver City Councillor. Although it's pretty light on details (there is no breakdown of individual travel claims or what value taxpayers received) it does provide a good indication as to who is chalking up some serious frequent flyer points.

For starters, Vision Councillor and Budget Finance Chair Raymond Louie topped the list when it came to charging taxpayers for travel expenses. In total, the report indicates he claimed $10,554 for travel across Canada on official business. One assumes that none of this was for his new role as the chair of the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) board of directors. He also earned an annual salary of just over $62,000, while his gig at the PNE was apparently pro bono.

On the other end of the spectrum is the one councillor many believe has already begun his retirement. Vision's George Chow stuck close to home in 2009 and only claimed $651 in travel expenses. However, he did manage to claim his $3,589 in transportation allowance.

Council's top earner was Mayor Gregor Robertson, who pulled in a tidy sum of $135,429. All of those trips to Copenhagen and the USA cost taxpayers $18,616 (not including his staff travel expenses) last year. Despite apparently riding his bike to meetings (at least that's what we see when the cameras are rolling), Robertson claimed $7,424 in local transportation expenses. Presumably this is for bus and cab fare as well as the electricity to charge up his electric car.

Other notable expenses include the NPA's Suzanne Anton who claimed $5,999 in "local expenses," the highest of any councillor. Anton claimed zippo when it came to her transportation allowance. At just over $68,000, Vision's Heather Deal and George Chow were both tied as the highest paid councillors in 2009. However, considering how much Vancouver's elected officials get paid, it's kind of equivalent to saying your the tallest of the seven dwarfs...at the end of the day you're still short.

A report coming to Council next week is also raising a few eyebrows amongst City staff who have just gone through a big round of budget cuts. Five councillors are seeking approval to attend yet another conference at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort. This time councillors Reimer, Cadman, Deal, Anton and Stevenson are dipping into city coffers to attend a Lower Mainland Government Association (LMLGA) conference. Can anyone explain to me exactly what the LMLGA does or is? Or whether any of these councillors will actually produce a report for the public after they come back from this conference outlining the value taxpayers received?

Once again the sole opposition councillor Suzanne Anton appears to have missed an opportunity to hold Vision's feet to the fire. Rather than questioning why so many councillors need to attend this conference in a time of budget restraint, Anton is actually carpooling up to Harrison with her Vision colleagues to partake in the festivities. Enough said.

- post by Daniel

10 Comments

What example does it set when your finance chair spends the most money on travel. Really now. A vancouver councillor needed to spend over 10K on junkets and trips abroad while we're laying off staff???? This will go over like a lead balloon at silly hall.

I read about this in the Province today. Apparently this mayor and council are cheaper than the last NPA dominated council. Sullivan in 2008 also cost more than Robertson.

Did CityCaucus miss that part or ignore it? Weren't they in the Mayor's office?

@ VicRK. Thanks for sharing Vision's spin on this c/o Frank Luba at the Province. Yes, Sam Sullivan cost more than Gregor Robertson over the span of one year. I checked, and here's where Sam went during 2008. I'll let readers decide whether it was money well-spent.

- A trip to Ottawa to speak to the Mental Health Commission in support of dealing with Vancouver's homeless, and advocating for Federal support for sick people in the Downtown Eastside

- A trip to the Beijing Summer Olympics and the Paralympics. Sam carried the Paralympic Torch through downtown Beijing and was on TV for nearly a billion viewers showing Vancouver's Mayor in a wheelchair. Sam stayed in China during the period between the Games to avoid additional travel.

- A trip to meet with the IOC and IPC in Switzerland, with a stop in New York City in support of bringing an MLS franchise to Vancouver. Not only is the MLS now coming to Vancouver, Sullivan met with the New York Times editorial board to push for increased interest by that publication in Vancouver's Games

- A trip to Toronto in support of bringing the Juno Awards to Vancouver, where Sullivan sat in on a sledge hockey match at Toronto City Hall as a promotion for Vancouver's Paralympic Games

I guess we'll have to see what Gregor Robertson's itinerary was in 2009, and compare notes. I know that he went to Seattle/Portland asking for high speed rail. How's that coming along?

what no trips for the Mayor on learning bee husbandry?

You guys did such great work with the Olympic free sites, but you wreck it with such blatant partisanship. Reward the folks who found you through google with some upfront and honest admissions when you post stuff like this.

Are you somehow implying that Frank Luba did not do a good job reporting the story? Robertson went to Greece to get the Olympic flame... Sullivan went to Beijing. That's what Olympic Mayors do apparently. You guys seem to have made it your business to trash this Mayor for things that were probably your idea a few years ago. It gets silly.

"Once again the sole opposition councillor Suzanne Anton appears to have missed an opportunity to hold Vision's feet to the fire. Rather than questioning why so many councillors need to attend this conference in a time of budget restraint, Anton is actually carpooling up to Harrison with her Vision colleagues to partake in the festivities. Enough said."

Daniel, I don't agree with your position for a number of reasons. I don't see this as 'partaking in the festivities. I see it as 'continuing education'.

I have been a speaker at a previous LMLGA conference, and I like to think that the politicians in attendance gained valuable information at the various sessions...I spoke about affordable housing; Wally Oppel spoke about community crime prevention, and so on.

The reality is that all planners, architects, lawyers and other professionals are required to take continuing education courses. I think it is entirely appropriate...indeed essential, that politicians take such courses too. That's what the LMLGA offers. Politicians should not be criticized for attending. I think they should be criticized for not attending.

My understanding is that the cost is quite modest (certainly less than the $2,100 dollars being charged for a two day course I'm teaching at in April) and the funds will come out of approved travel/expense budgets.

And while we're on the topic, let's get real about councillors' salaries and expenses. Most of our politicians offer incredible value for money paid...It's ridiculous that what is in effect a full time position for many pays in the low $60,000's. It's fine if you are retired, or independently wealthy, or have other means of support. But I believe that one reason we often don't attract better municipal candidates is because the compensation is so poor.

Edward de Bono, the father of lateral thinking once suggested that politicians should be paid 10% more than whatever they got in their last job. That way you wouldn't encourage people to try to get elected just for the money, nor would you discourage highly qualified, higher paid individuals from seeking office. I realize this is not likely to happen in Vancouver, but it does highlight a problem we should be addressing.

And as for Suzanne carpooling with Vision councillors....While I'm the first to admit it would have been nice if she could carpool with other NPA councillors, I think this is just fine. Or did you want her to take her bike?


Michael,

"The reality is that all planners, architects, lawyers and other professionals are required to take continuing education courses."

Exactly. Those professionals most of the times are paying from their own pockets if they want to take it to Whistler, Harrison or Seattle, MG!
This Council is from VANCOUVER. Paid by the tax payers of Vancouver. And they are compensated more than enough then they deserve, considering the damage they are inflicting upon us. BTW, when they wanted to become City Councillors they knew what the deal was. Period. You knew it as well in 2008.
They should have attended a similar seminar in...VANCOUVER... UBC, SFU, APEGBC, ARCH BC, VCC, LANGARA, CAPILANO, KWANTLEN, etc. We don't live in Bella Coola, Michael!

You are starting to sound like Vision!

Your self serving Bullshit is visible from the Moon. And what would you be teaching exactly? LOL

Boychick your bang on

The comparisons of Sam and Gregor over monies are ridiculous and I'm sorry the boys here didn't put it into perspective for you.

Gregor campaigned on fiscal prudence. No waste. Openness and transparency.

The comparison is unlike.

As for this idiotic notion that yet another civic governance seminar or getaway is necessary, I simply state, "STOP THE INSANITY!" It's totally unnecessary.

Sadly, comments like Michael Geller's only lend credence to the argument that the NPA "defenders" (Geller, Bickerton and Anton) either haven't the first bloody clue what they are talking about or their positions cozying up to Vision are blatant pandering in the mistaken hope that they might get some votes from the middle. They won't.

Thus far, the three of them have been huge disappointments as they have not been able to distinguish themselves from Vision hijinks and stupidity.

I remember reading that while Sam Sullivan was mayor he was many times to be found in Ottawa and Victoria government offices and no one knew what he was there for.

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