Comox council has voted in favour to increase the remuneration for both councillors and the mayor position within the town, but the raise won’t come into effect until 2023.
At the Jan. 19 council meeting, council members were not unanimous in the decision, however, the majority voted in favour of increasing the mayoral pay to $58,275 and that of a councillor position to $26,371 per year. The 2022 general local election will be held on Oct. 15.
Coun. Nicole Minions explained she was in favour of the mayoral increase but added she was not in favour of that for the councillor position, as she sees the role more as a part-time position.
The yearly inflationary adjustments in both positions have a weighing of 90 per cent from changes in the basket of communities contained within the bylaw and 10 per cent from the BC Consumer Price index changes, noted Shelly Russwurm, director of corporate services for the town in her report to council.
Coun. Ken Grant explained the problem with not giving an increase is that at some point, council will have to end up playing catch-up, which would eventually become quite large.
“We’ve been down this road a number of times … it seems to be a much better way to do this is to slowly increase.”
Noting the salary is not a living wage, Coun. Stephanie McGowan added she is in support of increasing the salaries in a reasonable way. She said while she understands the position is part-time, anyone within the town who is working shift work or anything that is not within traditional hours will not be able to run for a position on council.
“We miss out on a portion of our population who won’t be represented … I think if we want to encourage any marginalized people who are experiencing some of these things to join us at the table, we’re going to have to be remunerating them appropriately and encouraging them to do so.”
McGowan and Mayor Russ Arnott had a contested conversation after McGowan reflected on the abundance of older, white men at the council table. Arnott noted his gender and historic background didn’t need to be part of the discussion. McGowan attempted to reply but Arnott moved on to another agenda item.
When called to vote for first, second and third reading of the council remuneration bylaw, Couns. McGowan, Grant, Maureen Swift and Mayor Arnott voted in favour and Couns. Minions, Jonathan Kerr and Alex Bissinger voted in opposition.