Councillor Bryan Raiser made good on his promise to review council pay in Squamish on Tuesday, putting forward a Notice of Motion requesting that the item appear on a future council agenda. Raiser is requesting a review that would include representatives from labour, businesses and the community, with a District of Squamish councillor and members of district staff participating.
Raiser contends that the pay scale for the mayor and councillors is too low for the workload and is an impediment to younger, low income people getting into municipal politics. As a result, he has said that wealthy business owners and seniors with money and time are well-represented, while younger families have no voice.
Some members of council took exception to that claim when the issue came up in October after a staff review of wages, with members claiming they work to represent all residents of Squamish rather than one demographic.
That staff review, which compared District of Squamish wages with other municipalities, found that Squamish wages were about average for municipalities with Squamish's population and budget. However, with Squamish councillors meeting almost weekly at Committee of the Whole meetings, special meetings and committees - on top of their participation in local organizations and events - Raiser has argued that it's a full time job.
The mayor of Squamish is currently paid $35,923 annually while councillors receive $17,243.
Mayor Greg Gardner did not endorse the motion, but suggested that the motion be scheduled for the Feb. 9 special council meeting. With the Olympic break the next regular council meeting is scheduled for March 2, which is possibly too late to have any review included in the 2010 budget process.
Squamish rallies for Olympics
With the council chambers festooned in Canadian flags and red and white bunting, councillors passed two motions of support for the Olympic Games, local athletes and visitors to the town.
Council passed two proclamations. The first is the Best of Squamish Winter Athletes Celebration, which runs from Feb. 4 to 14, sponsored by Bob Brant and Cardinal Concrete. The goal of the program is to bring attention to local athletes competing at the international level, as well as to raise funds for the athletes through a partnership with Save On Foods that allows people to donate their points.
The second proclamation was by Councillor Patricia Heintzman, the Honorary Squamish Residents Months for February and March 2010. The goal of the proclamation is to make Olympic workers, volunteers, athletes and visitors welcome through the Games period, as well as to provide them with a souvenir of their stay. The souvenir will most likely be a card issued at Brennan Park Sports Centre, which will be hosting regular Olympic and Paralympic celebrations.