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Tri-City mayors, councils get pay bump — 12.5% in Port Coquitlam

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West said council has important roles "and deserve to be paid fairly.”
Port Coquitlam city council held its inaugural meeting in late 2022 at the Port Coquitlam Community Centre.

Tri-City mayors and councillors started the new year with a bump to their base salaries.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart is now earning $205,281 while each of the eight council members are yielding $81,834 as of Jan. 1, 2024, to match the wage increases negotiated last year for the city’s unionized staff.

On Tuesday, Jan. 9, Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West moved a motion — seconded by Coun. Paige Petriw — to bring its council remuneration in line with neighbouring municipalities.

The committee of council vote, of which Coun. Darrell Penner was absent, passed unanimously and will see 12.5 per cent hikes for council pay in each of 2024 and 2025 rather than follow the current policy of adjusting council wages according to inflation — currently at 3.5 per cent.

In 2023, West reaped a base salary of $141,557 while councillors each took in $49,174.

The mayor also received a transportation allowance of $8,774 and acting mayors got a $4,344 stipend annually for their two designated months; the acting mayor got a transportation allowance of $2,702 per year as well.

The new amounts, which were not listed on the committee report, have not yet been determined by city hall as the Vancouver Consumer Price Index (CPI) has yet to be announced, PoCo finance director Jeff Lovell told the Tri-City News today.

The last time PoCo council considered a wage increase was in 2015 to set the remuneration rate to the Vancouver CPI.

'Fair and reasonable'

Reading from a statement, West said PoCo is falling behind in council remuneration when compared to elected officials in other civic governments and boards of education.

West said reducing the gap between PoCo and other Tri-City jurisdictions provides “fair and reasonable compensation” for PoCo politicians.

Last month, Port Moody council voted itself a pay hike — retroactive to Jan. 1, 2023 — that saw Mayor Meghan Lahti’s base annual salary jump from $126,360 to $142,970 and councillors each receive $54,720.

“I know that not a single member of this council is here because of the pay,” West said at PoCo’s Jan. 9 committee meeting.

“They’re here because of their commitment to our community and our residents and because they want to accomplish positive things for Port Coquitlam.”

"The job of mayor and city council is an incredibly important one," he added.

"The decisions made by this body have a profound impact on our residents and the future of our city; all of that requires time, commitment, intelligence, consideration of all sides and hard work.”

West said council has lobbied to secure millions of dollars in grants from senior governments and agencies, “which in turn reduce the financial burden to Port Coquitlam taxpayers … These roles are important and deserve to be paid fairly.”

West said he’d like to see the provincial government create a remuneration formula for B.C. councils, as requested by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) repeatedly.

While Coun. Dean Washington took aim at Port Moody and SD43’s board of education for their salaries, he said he’s proud of the work that PoCo council has achieved, especially on fiscal responsibility.

“I think we’ve done a fantastic job and maybe we haven’t rewarded ourselves on the job we have done,” he said.

The remuneration move comes as PoCo council consults the community this month on the 2024 Budget that proposes a 5.58 per cent hike in property taxes plus 2.96 per cent for water and 14.71 per cent for sewer; residents receiving city waste pick-up will also face a 25.34 per cent uptick in levies.

To have your say on the draft 2024 budget, you can visit the City of Port Coquitlam's website.