Victoria backs off hefty council wage hike; Kelowna pushes ahead | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Victoria backs off hefty council wage hike; Kelowna pushes ahead

FILE PHOTO - Kelowna city council
Image Credit: City of Kelowna

Kelowna City Council gave final approval today, April 15, for their hefty raises based on a City of Victoria report on salaries, but that report had an entirely different reaction in the province’s capital city.

Victoria commissioned the report that compared mayor and council remuneration among a number of similar-sized cities in the province. That report showed their councillors were underpaid and was justification for a motion there to give themselves a 25% pay raise.

That same report showed Kelowna’s mayor and council were the lowest or second lowest paid among those cities surveyed, and voted themselves a 35% pay increase for councillors while Kelowna’s mayor was boosted to the 60th percentile in that group.

READ MORE: Kelowna city council pushing 'race to the top' with 35% raise

But while Kelowna pushed it through, Victoria council stopped its progress after a backlash from voters. Last week, they abandoned their raises in favour of forming a task force to make recommendations on salary increases, according to the Victoria Times-Colonist. That task force will be made up of community, non-profit, labour, government and business leaders.

Those councillors will also vote later on a motion to ask the provincial government to decide, once and for all, a system for remuneration that applies across the province.

“We need a standardized system to review remuneration. This way there will be no big hikes at one time because they do not happen often enough and this becomes politically charged as we have witnessed hugely over the last three weeks,” Victoria Coun. Krista Loughton said, according to the Times-Colonist. “I do not want any future councillors to be in the position I have been put in over the last few weeks.”

The same basic situation played out in Kelowna as well. The backlash filled letters to the editor and many posts and comments on social media.

Kelowna Coun. Ron Cannan raised a similar motion to appoint a task force to consider remuneration rates, but was soundly defeated.

Instead, the motion passed its most contentious reading with a 5-4 vote. The final April 15 vote was unanimous, according to Mayor Tom Dyas. Though Cannan and Coun. Gord Lovegrove both said they voted against the motion, that’s not how it was recorded.

Dyas, who championed the motion through council, said he would welcome the idea of a salary set by the province.

READ MORE: 'Courageous' Kelowna councillors are getting their raises

“If the province was to look at establishing salaries for mayors and councils unilaterally based on a formula of population or growth in the community… I think that I would be in complete favour of it,” he told iNFOnews.ca. “The idea of the (municipal) charter as it sits right now, it puts it back on council to have that difficult and uncomfortable conversation."

Since 2014, Council had a policy to only accept cost of living increases, tied to the Consumer Price Index. This year’s discussion was the first time since then that council has considered upping its salaries. Now, salaries will be reviewed by staff every two years, based on the same comparison evaluation as the Victoria report.

With the change, councillors will always receive 40% of the mayor’s salary, which is $134,848, but will rise to $145,200 Jan. 1, 2025. That puts councillor part-time salaries at $50,535 until Jan. 1 2025 when it rises to $58,080.


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