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Disclosure statements offer few details about Tri-City politicians' financial dealings

Documents showing how much elected officials in the Tri-Cities earn and owe were released this week for public scrutiny, with little information.
TC mayors
Left to right: mayors of Coquitlam, Port Moody and Port Coquitlam.

Documents showing how much elected officials in the Tri-Cities earn and owe were released this week for public scrutiny.

But what what the papers reveal — and how they are distributed to the community — offer little insight to how local politicians handle money in their private lives.

A requirement under the provincial Financial Disclosure Act, the annual statements are designed to show assets, liabilities and sources of income for elected local government and school district representatives. 

The signed statements are also designed to provide transparency and prevent potential conflicts of interest as the elected officials allocate millions of dollars of taxpayers’ funds.

Still, politicians aren’t obliged to offer much on their forms: They don’t have to list their own residence, their property outside of the jurisdiction they serve or any residential property debt. They also don’t have to include cash borrowed for household or personal living expenses, or assets held in trust for someone else.

In Coquitlam, the statements show Mayor Richard Stewart has an inactive holding company, no liabilities and properties on Lebleu and Johnson streets, the latter of which he has a 1% ownership interest.

Stewart also draws salaries as mayor, as a member of Metro Vancouver, TransLink and the Municipal Finance Authority (MFA) and as owner of Stewart Communications.

Coun. Brent Asmundson, a Burke Mountain resident, also owns another area property while Coun. Chris Wilson owns the parcel next to his home; councillors Steve Kim and Teri Towner also listed secondary properties but outside of the Tri-Cities.

When they’re not working on behalf of the city, some Coquitlam politicians also hold outside jobs: Kim is the sole proprietor of Boilingpoint Communications while Coun. Trish Mandewo draws an income as the CEO of Synergy On Boards Consulting Group and as mentor in residence at SFU. 

Coun. Dennis Marsden is the principal of True North Business — a business consulting and government relations company — and the president of Clean Air Organics while Towner is an Uber and Lyft driver, and Wilson is the executive director of the non-profit KidSport Tri-Cities.

In Port Coquitlam, Mayor Brad West lists no assets or liabilities, and he works as mayor and on the city’s behalf at Metro Vancouver, TransLink and MFA.

West told the Tri-City News he has taken a leave from his longtime communications position with the United Steelworkers and receives “no compensation from them hence it’s not on the disclosure.” 

Outside of council’s civic duties, Coun. Steve Darling is an employee of Proactive Investors and a consultant for the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association while Coun. Darrell Penner is an employee of Meridian Meats and a musical contractor for the Meridian Arms Pub (Penner also has property in Maple Ridge). 

And Coun. Glenn Pollock is the constituency assistant to PoCo MLA Mike Farnworth, Coun. Nancy McCurrach works for Telus and Coun. Dean Washington is the president of RPM Media Inc. and Grip Tire Stores Inc.

In Port Moody, Mayor Robert Vagramov, who has assets in Tesla, Apple and Air Canada, lists his income as mayor, as a Metro Vancouver and a TransLink director, and contractor for Macinhome Inc.

Coun. Diana Dilworth is the director for government relations for the Homebuilders’ Association of Vancouver while Coun. Meghan Lahti is the owner of Sweet and Savoury Pie Company and Coun. Amy Lubik is a policy analyst with the Fraser Health Authority.

Coun. Steve Milani is the proprietor of Milani Design and a partner with Music Maestro DJ Service, and Coun. Zoe Royer has two holding companies and Sweetheart Bakery World Inc., of which she’s the president and CEO. Royer also is the owner and gallery director for Silk Gallery, and lists five properties — other than her primary residence — in Port Moody, Peachland, Sechelt and Halfmoon Bay. Royer also has six corporate assets, according to her disclosure form.

As for distributing the statements, Coquitlam city staff provided email copies while PoCo sent them electronically to the Tri-City News — for the first time due to COVID-19. Port Moody posts its statements on its website; however, despite the pandemic, School District 43 declined to email copies for its trustees, saying the information is available at the district office, for in-person viewing only.