Chilliwack – Transparency and accountability. This past Tuesday, a heated debate erupted over expenses from City Councilors and the Mayor. Specifically, Councilor Sam Waddington. His bill to the taxpayer was almost $10K more than the always active Mayor, Sharon Gaetz. Travel costs, meals and accommodation to conferences are the usual culprits but for the most part, is it part of doing the City’s business.
Council Waddington has taken to social media to defend his expenses:
It seems that it is election season. I stand by the statements that I made about my expenses on June 19th in Council, and I am proud of what these expenses mean. Every dollar spent means that I have spent time away from my business, my community, my friends and my family in order to do the work that Chilliwack residents elected me to do. Every City Councillor gets paid the same amount of money whether they put in five hours a week 20 hours a week or 60 hours a week or whether they go to one meeting outside our City or they spend dozens of days on the road this year as I did. Given the challenges, and the opportunities, that we are facing, I believe we need to be proactive. We need to go outside of our own homes and our own city and learn from professionals and from communities that are at the leading edge of solving things like homelessness and the opioid crisis, planning new transportation solutions for growing cities, protecting against natural disasters and understanding the future impacts of autonomous vehicles on our roadways. Over the past four years I have dedicated myself to learn as much as I can, and to apply that knowledge to solutions for our community. My role also entails spending as much time as possible with provincial and Federal Ministers, Premiers and the Prime Minister, so that they understand the needs we have and our expectations for them in addressing them. This kind of work leads to real and lasting solutions for Chilliwack. It is not the lowest cost approach but it is the highest value one.
In 2017, the criteria for the UBCM-FCM Small Communities Travel Fund was restricted to communities with population under 55,000. That excluded Chilliwack which is currently at 90,000 although BC Business Magazine lists the Wack at 104,000.
The fund helps communities send their elected officials to FCM – Federation of Canadian Municipalities , UBCM Union of BC Municipalities and other meetings including stops in Victoria among other sites.
From the June 19 Chilliwack Council Agenda (Where more info can be found, click here):
The expense totals listed for 2017:
$7,583.85 – Mayor Sharon Gaetz
$5,190.48 – Coun. Sue Attrill
$7,145.76 – Coun. Chris Kloot
$4,819.48 – Coun. Jason Lum
$2,191.39 – Coun. Ken Popove
$2,592.23 – Coun. Chuck Stam
$17,240.48 – Coun. Sam Waddington
Situations like these can easily become election issues. For the record, BC municipal elections are this fall, Saturday, October 20.