Letters to the Editor for May 19

Letters to the Editor this week discuss bylaw enforcement in Fernie, Christy Clark's interview on the CBC and city council wages.

Letter to the Editor re: Bylaw enforcement

Almost a year ago, I spoke to the bylaw enforcement officer about parking on the corner of 10th Ave. and 9th street. These people have been parking on the pavement and right up to the stop sign for that long. Your snow removal people should be able to vouch for that, as only one lane can be plowed.

When I talked to the bylaw officer – who was parked on that block at the time – he assured me he was going to do something about it. To date – nothing.

On a brighter note, the “hated” Albertans were remodeling the house across 10th Ave. They had three or four vehicles there and all of them were off the pavement. I have no problem with people parking on the pavement the odd time, but not year round.

The city was talking about hiring extra help for the dog situation and to help with bylaw enforcement. They even suggested the police help with the dog problem. What the hell are we paying the people we have hired for? You have no problem giving yourself a raise – start earning it and start spending like it’s your own money.

My apologies to the Albertans who have been unfairly maligned (myself included).

Phil SoukoroffFernie, B.C.

 

 

Letter to the Editor re: Christy Clark interview

On CBC radio, I just listened to Chris Hall interviewing Premier Christy Clark.  The initial focus was on the fires in Fort McMurray and the support offered by British Columbia.  Premier Clark noted that these current fires, along with other events such as flooding, are indeed related to climate change.  The Premier went on to say that increased funding is needed to mitigate the effects of climate change – point well taken.

I’m sure I read somewhere that our current climate change/climate disruption is being accelerated by our increased global emissions of CO2.

Without missing a step, Premier Clark seemed to propose that developing another carbon based industry (LNG) would help mitigate climate change globally.  Is that akin to thinking that developing a tobacco industry will help mitigate the effects of smoking?

Without having a degree in logic, I would still guess that if you want to mitigate the problems related to increased global CO2 emissions, developing new sources for those emissions should not be part of your action plan.  So then Premier Clark, what is your plan to help reduce global emissions of CO2 ?  Does investment in “green technologies” make it on the list?  This would include funding for training and retraining for workers to be part of that globally emerging economy.  In global terms, where will British Columbia be placed in the emergence of the new economy and how will it have met its obligations for CO2 emission reductions?

Ron RobinsonNelson, B.C.

 

 

Letter to the Editor re: Council remuneration

After reading a comment by Mr. Gildea on The Our Fernie Forums site the pay increase for our Fernie Council and Mayor has my interest. I have done some further research and it looks like many of the B.C. municipality councils have voted on and approved pay increases for their individual councils over the last few years. There are several articles that show what they used to mitigate this increase and as in The Free Press article average dollars per citizen were stated.

The larger cities with 50K and above in population all seem to be between .75 and $1.10 per person in the community. So a city like Coquitlam with 126,000 people in 2014 had a mayor making $129,000. Kelowna has 117,000 people and their mayor was making about $80,000.  This of course is much easier to fund with populations like theirs to carry the extra burden.

Smaller cities however, like Cranbrook that had a population of just under 20,000 people in 2011 (probably not a whole lot more today, call it 22,000 for growth today) has a mayor that makes just under $54,000 including expenses (as reported in 2014) so about $2.45/person.

It gets a little trickier when you get into the smaller communities as I have yet to find any further information in regards to how much Kimberley or Creston’s mayors and council are making but I did find a great article about the communities in the Trail Daily Times on July 14, 2014 breaking down the salaries for Montrose, Rossland, Fruitvale and Trail.  Type the following link into your computer or phone and you will find it.

http://www.traildailytimes.ca/ourtown/266781131.html

In the article it states that Trail’s mayor earned $28,000 or just over $2,300 a month to govern 5,733 residents.  He was also reimbursed approximately $12,000 in expenses that he paid.  Expenses have always been a double edged sword and a conversation for another time.

And an old article for Invermere in 2011 had their mayor see in increase to $20,000.

http://www.bclocalnews.com/news/131796483.html?mobile=true

Judging by this, the mayors and councilors in that region are in line with the per person average that Cranbrook has followed for smaller cities and townships, communities in fact that have approximately the same population as Fernie or less.

So back to our little mountain town, Fernie B.C.

If our mayor’s salary is increased to $36,000 based on our population of 4,448 (Canada Census site for 2011) let’s call it 4500 to be fair in regards to growth, our current mayor will be making approximately $8.00 per citizen as stated in The Free Press article.

I guess my question might be how our council came up with the amount of the raises? If we are following in suit with the majority of the other communities in our region and our approximate size we would probably be paying our mayor the same as Trail’s mayor, $28,000 and reimbursing her for expenses out of pocket.  If we followed the average per person pay structure for the Kootenays it would be much lower or just left as it was at $20,000.

I don’t believe that just because the comparison (below stated in The Free Press article) Fernie should just follow suit for the sake of being in line with two other communities that would also appear to be much higher than the per capita average.  That is not a good enough reason.  That, like so many of us have heard our parents say when we were younger, is like jumping off the bridge just because our friend Johnny did it.

“In comparison, Sparwood’s mayor receives $33,750 per year, which equates to $9.33 per resident while their councillors earn $14,499, which is equivalent to $4.01 per capita and Elkford is just slightly below on a per capita comparison. Their mayor earns $19,315, equaling $7.84 per capita. The council members receive $8,995 per annum, which results in $3.65 per capita.”

If the council has approved a raise locally, this should be reviewed. It would appear that by comparable standards this raise is way out of line. In my opinion though something like this should be made public knowledge in a manner that is far more than just an article or two only received by those who still read newspapers (no offense intended to our local newspaper).  The other communities that are comparable in size should all be noted, offering not just the ones that are paid more but also the ones that are paid much less.   At least then when the increase in pay is several times what the majority of communities are making you can at least say you were open about it.

The council positions are important but are part time. Supplemented income to offset lost wages is fair but a study should really be done to determine just how many hours the other elected officials take away from their day-to-day careers before determining how much they should get paid.

If indeed our Mayor is 160 hours full time per month she was only making about $10.41 an hour when being paid $20,000 year.  So essentially she was making minimum wage, in my opinion minimum wage for the person who is supposed to be keeping your community on track seems ridiculous.

I can’t say as I completely disagree with the logic the mayor has put forth. A higher pay structure might certainly attract a younger crowd to the positions. However the amount they are paying would still make it less than amiable to take on the role.  Aside from the love of the community you grew up in or the drive to take the town to new heights and opportunities, there is not a lot of incentive to bring somebody to getting up on that soap box to motivate a community and its citizens.  I would imagine there must have been some sort of reasoning behind this aside from trying to attract younger people. In the end the younger people still have to be voted in.

My last thoughts on this are that a full time position as a mayor should receive appropriate pay consideration. I realize my comments portray an attitude that they are making too much money but that is not my position on this at all.  My thoughts are that the way this was done and the reasoning they offered to say it was a fair increase were very poor.  There has to be a reason why the majority of the communities do not have per capita pay scales up in the $8/person range.  Fair or not I think it requires more review because at the end of the day the money comes from the taxpayers and in this case I don’t believe the reasons given were enough to constitute the raise.

Shawn PotyokFernie, B.C.