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PoCo Heritage calls on city to provide a living wage for staff

PORT COQUITLAM — PoCo Heritage signed a partnership deal with the city last year, meaning the base rate for its staff should be at least $24.08 an hour, the president of the non-profit group told elected officials.

The president of the Port Coquitlam Heritage and Cultural Society came cap in hand before local politicians yesterday, Sept. 26, to ask for more money.

Jack Choules stood before committee of council to request an additional $7,000 in next year's city budget to bring PoCo Heritage salaries up to a living wage.

In 2017, PoCo became the third municipality in Canada to implement the living wage policy.

Last year, PoCo Heritage signed a partnership deal with the city, meaning the base rate for its staff should be at least $24.08 an hour, he said.

Currently, the wage is at $20.90 per hour for the 1.6 FTE: one full-time manager and a part-time employee.

Choules said the salary boost would help the non-profit organization retain qualified professionals, as well as maintain current service levels without disruption at the centre, which is located at 150-2248 McAllister Ave.

Choules said PoCo Heritage is back to pre-pandemic levels for staffing, volunteers and outreach.

Last year, 23 volunteers donated 3,000 hours — averaging 130 hour per person — and the centre reaped $72,000 in externals grants on top of its $55,000 annual city grant for operations.

Asked by Coun. Darrell Penner about PoCo Heritage's plans to become financially self-sufficient, as promised in 2007 when the city provided it space in The Outlet at Leigh Square, Choules said the group is working hard to find stable sources.

Still, "nobody is willing to pay for the day-to-day operations."

PoCo Heritage’s agreement with the city is up for renewal in 2025.

Formed in 1988 by Ada Con, Lois Milne and former councillor Ron Talbot, PoCo Heritage aims to preserve the city’s history.

Last Saturday, Sept. 23, PoCo Heritage opened a new exhibit called PoCo LAX to celebrate the city's field and box lacrosse past and its champions.

PoCo staff said they'll include PoCo Heritage’s funding request in the draft 2024 budget.


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