Council salaries in Victoria are once again a talking point.

Last Thursday, Victoria council sat for a total of 15 hours of meetings in one day. But this morning on CBC Radio’s On the Island with host Gregor Craigie, councillor Ben Isitt said the workload backs up his proposal for a pay hike of 50 per cent, despite a 86 per cent disapproval rating in a recent public survey.

“The current situation is unsustainable. That’s a conversation we need to have if we are going to accept the results of the survey providing an accurate reflection of public opinion,” Isitt said.

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Catherine Holt said this council spends too much time on issues that are outside its mandate, and as a result, spends too much time on meetings.

“We did a little calculation at the chamber, they have passed 350 or so motions that don’t relate to their 140 strategic planning items, additional.”

It all adds up according to Mayor Lisa Helps.  She said it’s time for council to stick to its job of running the city, reduce the amount of work it and city staff, are doing, and the subject of pay raises can be reviewed in the future.

“We’re the capital city.  And there’s a lot of work to do here.  A lot of responsibilities as the capital city.  My feeling is that council should stick to our strategic plan. it’s very ambitious, we’ve got a lot in there. and I would like to deliver that to the public by the end of this term.

Former six-term city councillor Chris Coleman says public service shouldn’t be about money, and this council needs to focus.

“I think I always viewed it as the voters of victoria gave me this extraordinary gift.  Allowing me to be part of the governance of the city.  And it wasn’t about the money,” Coleman said.

Victoria’s compensation is not out of line compared with other capital cities.  In Edmonton, a city with a population of 981,280, councillors earn $116,000.  Regina city councillors are paid $44,000 in a city with 214,631 residents.  Winnipeg councillors are paid $100,000 in a city of 753, 700.  Back on Vancouver Island, the most populous municipality is Saanich with 110, 800 residents.  Its councillors earn an annual salary of $47,000.  Victoria’s councillors take home $45, 384 in a city with a population of 92, 141.

“When I started, I was working a half-time job as a marketer, I still polled three nights a week as a janitor, I was doing my masters, and I was recently married. So, yeah. you do other things.  But this was something that I loved,” Coleman said.

We tried to reach Councillor Isitt, but he did not return calls or texts.

Mary Griffin