Regional director takes issue with meeting remuneration

It's not about the money, it's about the policy, says Sayward director John MacDonald

Money was a contentious issue at the July 25 Strathcona Regional District table following a difference of opinion on whether a director should be compensated for out-of-town meetings.

Quadra Island Director Jim Abram filed a request to be paid for attending meetings twice a year in Richmond after being chosen to sit as one of two local government representatives on Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Marine Finfish Aquaculture Management Advisory Committee.

“It’s $125, there’s two meetings a year and I don’t believe this is something that’s a major problem for this board,” Abram said. “This is representation from our board, our own regional district at the provincial table. I humbly ask for remuneration. This is no different from other committees we get appointed to.”

But Sayward Director John MacDonald said circumstances were different because Abram nominated himself after the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) asked for applications from local government officials for the committee. According to the Strathcona Regional District’s remuneration policy, directors should only be paid for attending meetings that a director was appointed to by the regional district’s board of directors.

“I understand where it’s leading, but I have a problem because it’s a UBCM appointment, not an appointment of the SRD (Strathcona Regional District) – it’s a sought appointment,” MacDonald said.

Abram said that shouldn’t matter.

“To not pay it would be totally inconsistent,” he said. “That this board didn’t appoint me I don’t think is relevant at all.”

Area D Director Brenda Leigh sided with Abram, noting the board should be grateful to have local representation at a provincial table.

“There is probably very few people in the province with the knowledge and background of finish and shellfish aquaculture that Director Abram has,” Leigh said. “He knows a thousand times more about this topic than I do – $125 for meetings only twice a year is not much to pay for somebody who has the expertise he does.”

MacDonald insisted it wasn’t Abram’s expertise he was questioning rather the principle.

“It’s where the appointment is from and it’s not from us,” MacDonald said.

Abram than came up with an agreeable solution – have the board appoint Abram to the committee in order to make him eligible.

The board did just that, which will allow Abram to claim compensation.

Abram said Fisheries and Oceans will pay for travel expenses, but not personal time.