Kelowna News

Wildfires last summer meant big bucks for West Kelowna senior staff

Last summer's wildfires helped boost the pay of top West Kelowna officials.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/BC Wildfire Service

Two of West Kelowna’s top officials pocketed and extra $73,000 in 2021, largely due to wildfire duty.

West Kelowna CAO Paul Gipps picked up an extra $30,0000 and fire chief Jason Brolund came in at $43,000 over base salary.

The extra money was “related to emergency operations and recovery, such as the time required to assist the regional Emergency Operations Centre,” an email from West Kelowna’s finance department to, says.

The White Rock Lake, Mount Law and Mount Miller wildfires all had an impact on West Kelowna last summer.

READ MORE: Kamloops Fire Centre sees record-breaking number of hectares burned this year

Gipps was paid $260,594 in 2021, which made him the fourth highest paid CAO in the Thompson-Okanagan region that year. But his base salary of $227,000 puts him far lower on the list.

Kelowna city manager Doug Gilchrist was the highest paid head of municipal services in the region at $306,371, according to the annual Statement of Financial Information that all local governments in B.C. have to file by the end of June.

They show remuneration and expenses but don’t break it down to show how much is base salary versus overtime or other premiums.

In most cases, the top employee is called the CAO (chief administration officer).

Kamloops CAO David Trawin came in at $291,109 and Regional District of Central Okanagan CAO Brian Reardon was paid $265,467.

Emergency centres in Kamloops and the Okanagan were active through much of last summer because of wildfires.

When it comes to fire chiefs, Brolund pulled in $209,122 on a base salary of $166,000.

His total pay for the year was more than fire chiefs in the other larger cities in the region. Kelowna’s Travis Whiting was paid $195,067, Larry Watkinson in Penticton was paid $188,127 and David Line in Vernon earned $187,452.

At the bottom of the list was Kamloops chief Steve Robinson at $176,814 but he retired at the end of April, the report says.

CAO 2021 pay in the region’s five largest cities:

  • $306,371 – Dough Gilchrist, Kelowna
  • $291,109 – David Trawin, Kamloops
  • $260,594 – Paul Gipps, West Kelowna
  • $242,063 – Will Pearce, Vernon
  • $236,595 – Donny Van Dyk, Penticton

CAO pay for Thompson-Okanagan regional districts:

  • $265,467 – Brian Reardon, Central Okanagan
  • $216,764 – David Sewell, North Okanagan
  • $211,463 – Scott Hildebrand, Thompson-Nicola
  • $184,156 – Bill Newell, Okanagan Similkameen

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