After a brief 15-minute lunch break, Victoria councillors were back at work on Friday.

Their council meeting started at 8 a.m., scheduled until 4 p.m. So councillors are eating a tax-payer funded lunch while they work through the agenda.   Ben Isitt says he and his fellow councillors are not being paid enough for the long hours they put in and presented this motion in October.

“That council direct staff to report back on the financial implications of adjusting the salary,” Isitt said at the Oct. 21 council meeting.

Isitt’s asking for a salary similar to that of other city staff. But that would mean a dramatic increase in the pay for councillors, taking them from $45,000 a year to more than $70,000.  That’s not sitting well with the business community, according to the CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Catherine Holt.

“Nobody has ever told me that the problem with city council is that they don’t get paid enough, or they don’t do enough,” Holt said.  She says her members would be concerned if Victoria councillors received a 50 per cent hike.

“Victoria is one of 13 municipalities that businesses pay business taxes to. If we pay more to this council what does this mean for Saanich? What does that mean for Oak Bay?” Holt said.

Running for public office, according to UVic’s Michael Prince, should be about serving the community, not a career.

“The slippery slope is the more we think about it as a full-time job or a career. the more we shift away from the notion of public service,” Prince said.

Isitt wouldn’t comment on the propsosal, saying in a text message, “City council is currently a part-time position, so I have finite time to devote to media interviews and communications arising. I am declining to comment on this story.”

The public is now being asked to weigh in on the 2020 budget, which includes the proposal. online at victoria.ca until Nov. 24. 

Mary Griffin