British Columbia

District of North Vancouver councillors become latest to raise their own salaries

The District of North Vancouver voted unanimously to increase remuneration for the mayor from $104,005 to $122,777 in 2019, and for councillors from $41,602 to $49,111.

Raise follows federal government's scrapping of tax-free exemption on third of politician's salary

The salary for mayor of the District of North Vancouver will increase to $122,777 in 2019, up from $104,005 currently. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

Another group of councillors in Metro Vancouver has agreed to raise their own salaries next year. 

The District of North Vancouver voted unanimously to increase remuneration for the mayor from $104,005 to $122,777 in 2019, and for councillors from $41,602 to $49,111.

In addition, extended health and dental benefits paid for by the municipality were increased from 50 per cent to 100 per cent.

All told, the additional annual cost to the municipality is estimated at $63,827, with those costs "absorbed through reductions in other administrative areas," according to a staff report.

The District of North Vancouver is the latest Metro Vancouver council to vote for raising its own pay in recent months, joining Maple Ridge, Langley City, West Vancouver and Port Coquitlam, among others.

No more tax-free allowance

Their reasons for doing so are broadly similar — a measure in the 2018 federal budget which eliminated a tax benefit for municipal officials.

Previously, councillors and mayors were effectively allowed to declare one-third of their salary as a tax-free allowance.

The pay raises in the District of North Vancouver ensure the net pay for whoever becomes mayor in the Oct. 20 municipal election — as incumbent Richard Walton is not seeking re-election — remains the same. The net pay for councillors will go up by 4.8 per cent. 

"There's of course a bit of an irony here," said Coun. Roger Bassam.

"We always complain about our share of taxation, and making us 'whole' is taking more money out of the city taxpayer pockets."

But ultimately, he too voted for the motion.

"It addresses the tax-free portion that we have traditionally been afforded," Bassam said.

"All that does is keep us [at the same net salary], so we're technically a larger salary but a larger tax bill."

In 2017, the compensation for both the mayor and councillors in the District of North Vancouver was the ninth highest of Metro Vancouver's 21 municipalities.

More raises on the way? 

Other municipalities, including Vancouver and Port Moody, have so far not moved forward on changing their salaries. Coquitlam, meanwhile, would like the provincial government to oversee compensation for all municipal politicians going forward.   

Coun. Matthew Bond said the District of North Vancouver's next council would face further issues surrounding compensation. 

"The next council is going to have a tough job, especially considering the cost of living, and trying to attract more representative segments of the population: those that are working, those that are facing the real-life challenge of living and working [here]," he said. 

Bassam agreed a further pay increase was worth exploring, but emphasized that there was a philosophical divide on the topic of compensation for elected officials. 

"This is pretty close to a full-time job, timewise. I'm not sure that's actually reflected in the compensation ... but you don't do it for the money, so you do it for other reasons," he said.

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