Strathcona Regional District office. Photo by Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror

Strathcona Regional District office. Photo by Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror

Strathcona Regional District director pay claims ‘quite a variance’ — Chief Administrative Officer

Regional District to get independent audit for director pay claims

The Strathcona Regional District will be seeking an independent audit into director remuneration, after a report showed large differences in the amounts individual directors were claiming.

All directors get a basic compensation depending on their role in the SRD. From there, they can claim public hearings related to their roles on various committees, remuneration for their work in external agencies. There are also travel expenses which can be claimed, but those were negligible due to the pandemic.

“The only exception to that is public hearings,” said chief administrative officer David Leitch. “If you’re an EA (Electoral Area) director and you attend the public hearings, there’s the ability to create more remuneration because of that.”

Electoral area directors can also claim supplemental meetings — including community meetings, meetings with staff at the SRD office, meetings with senior government officials, and more.

RELATED: SRD Electoral Area directors approve double pay bylaw amendment

The report lists the high, average and low remuneration amounts for each category. Area C Director Jim Abram is listed as the high end of each, having claimed $8,160 for his board, committee and public hearing meetings, $4,800 for his external agency work (Abram is listed on seven external agencies, the most of any director), and $9,120 as a claim for 57 supplemental compensable meetings. Director Gerald Whalley claimed one such meeting for $160, and directors Noba Anderson and Brenda Leigh claimed zero each.

These supplemental compensable meetings brought up questions from various directors. Campbell River director Charlie Cornfield said that the bylaw allowing these kinds of claims was not passed by the board as a whole, rather it was passed by Electoral Area directors.

“There’s no way that I would have supported going off to conventions… where you actually get paid to attend,” he said. “It’s not there to generate revenue… I look at every virtual meeting we’ve attended… I’ve never once thought about claiming for one of those.

“There’s something just not right about that.”

Campbell River director Claire Moglove also “recalled concern” about that bylaw when it was initially brought up.

Electoral Area D Director Brenda Leigh said she had concerns with the timing of this motion, calling it a “kind of witch hunt.”

“I see this motion and the whole initiative as nothing but political right before an election,” she said. “The report seems to point at Area C for high claims… I think this is a witch hunt and I don’t think we should be doing it now.”

Abram’s total claimed compensation was $22,080, which is on top of his base remuneration as an electoral area director.

Abram spoke on the matter as well, saying “I welcome the interest in why I receive more money than other directors.”

He said that an injury prevented him from attending meetings in person, as did the pandemic.

“My constituents expect me to be 100 per cent plus involved in doing those things,” he said, adding there was a “disproportionate” amount of work that he had to do.

Board chair Brad Unger restored order and returned to the motion for an independent audit of director remuneration, saying “don’t get on that it’s about you, or it’s about Brenda (Leigh), it’s all directors.”

Despite Leigh and Abram voting against the motion, the SRD will be hiring an independent auditor to look at director remuneration.

RELATED: SRD looks into splitting hearings covering OCP and rezoning amendments

Strathcona Regional District board votes for compensation status quo

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