Council members in North Cowichan won’t be getting any major pay raises anytime soon.
A report by Sainas Consult Inc. found that the mayor and councillors’ compensation in North Cowichan is very close to the median salaries of nine similar municipalities in B.C. in their research, and is recommending that council maintain its current remuneration levels.
At the council meeting on June 1, Coun. Kate Marsh said she was disappointed with the consultant’s conclusions as North Cowichan is very different from some of the other municipalities it was compared to.
“This is a large municipality with six distinct communities and council members need to get out in these communities and be present,” she said.
“I was a little disappointed because I think that, obviously [our remuneration] is adequate for us, but I think it’s makes it more difficult for younger people to be able to take on this role and it makes me very sad.”
North Cowichan does annually adjust council’s remuneration by the same percentage change as the Consumer Price Index for British Columbia over the preceding year, and Coun. Rob Douglas made an unsuccessful motion that North Cowichan cap the CPI increase at no more than two per cent for council members.
“As of April, the CPI was 6.7 per cent and I have concerns that in the next calendar year, council members will be giving an almost seven per cent increase in compensation when almost nobody else is getting anywhere near that,” he said.
Currently, the mayor’s remuneration in North Cowichan is $84,758 a year, while councillors make $30,513.
Of the nine other comparable jurisdictions the consultants compared North Cowichan with, the one where council members make the least is the City of Courtenay where the mayor currently receives $72,300 in pay and councillors make $25,332, while at the other end of the spectrum, the mayor in the City of Langley receives $135,260 in remuneration and council members get $60,867.
“The Municipality of North Cowichan’s mayor and councillor current salaries are very close to the market median salaries in effect as of April 1, 2022,” the consultant company concluded.
“Therefore, we recommend no change.”
Council voted to accept the report.
At a meeting of North Cowichan’s committee of the whole on Jan. 11, council members voted to reject a staff recommendation that a review of their compensation be held in 2025, during the term of the next council.
In 2018, the previous council decided that the next review of council’s remuneration be conducted prior to the next municipal election in 2022, which will be held in October.
But in a COW meeting in December, council members decided to make no decision at that time, and the issue would be brought back to a future COW meeting early in 2022.
Mayor Al Siebring said at the meeting on Jan. 11 that “kicking the issue down the field” would just mean that it would be left in the hands of the new council.
“Deferring difficult decisions doesn’t make them any easier and doesn’t necessarily mean that a better decision would be made,” he said at the time.