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Vancouver's 10 city councillors will earn $102K each in 2024

Raise of 3.4% boosts base salaries from $98,585 to $101,937.
Mayor Ken Sim and the city’s 10 councillors all got a pay raise to begin 2024.

Vancouver’s 10 city councillors will each earn almost $102,000 in base salary this year.

The increase from $98,585 in 2023 to $101,937 is because of a 3.4 per cent raise that kicked in Jan. 1, according to information supplied by the city’s communications department to Glacier Media.

Though the increase wasn’t as significant as the boost in 2023 — 7.3 per cent — councillors’ salaries have steadily increased in years, with their base salary roughly $10,000 lower in 2022 at $91,878.

Pay increases in recent years have been as follows: 3.8 per cent in 2022, 0.3 per cent in 2021, 2.3 per cent in 2020 and 2.7 per cent in 2019.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ken Sim’s salary this year will jump to $205,914 from $199,143 in 2023 — an increase calculated at 2.02 times a councillor's salary.

The increases have fluctuated over the years because it has involved formulas that factor in the consumer price index, the average weekly wage for B.C. and data from Statistics Canada.

The pay increases are not the result of a vote by the current council but connected to a policy set in motion several years ago by a previous council to have annual adjustments to salaries.

The policy was implemented based on findings from an independent panel, which determined annual increases were warranted when compared to salaries of other Canadian councillors.

ABC Vancouver Coun. Peter Meiszner in the council chamber. Photo Mike Howell

Compensation 'currently fair'

Coun. Peter Meiszner said in an email Tuesday that he believes what he earns is “fair,” particularly when compared to other Canadian councillors, some of whom are paid more than Vancouver councillors.

“With the City of Vancouver being at the centre of the third largest metropolitan area in Canada — and all of the complexities and responsibilities that come with being a councillor in a major city — I feel that our compensation is currently fair, despite being lower than other major Canadian cities,” Meiszner said.

In Edmonton, the mayor’s 2023 salary was $211,488 while councillors earned $119,484, according to the City of Edmonton’s website. As of Jan. 1, 2024, a Calgary councillor will earn $120,744 this year and the mayor, $213,737.

The compensation paid to civic politicians in Calgary in 2024 is based on the Alberta Average Weekly Earnings measurement, which triggered a 2.41 per cent raise this year. The increase in 2023 was the same amount, according to a City of Calgary compensation document.

In Saskatoon, the mayor’s salary in 2023 was $160,548 while a councillor earned $73,852.

“I am not doing this for the money, I am doing this because I love our city and am committed to serving Vancouverites as one of their voices at city hall,” Meiszner added. “It’s a huge honour and a responsibility I am proud to have bestowed on me.”

ABC Vancouver Coun. Lenny Zhou was elected in October 2022. Photo Mike Howell

339 hours in meetings

Coun. Lenny Zhou echoed Meiszner’s point that his motivation to enter politics was not based on compensation “but rather by a desire to serve the residents of our city,” he said in an email.

“I am dedicated to transparency and open dialogue on this issue with the public, and I am committed to continuing my service to the community,” said Zhou, noting a previous council’s decision to implement the annual pay increases.

Both councillors are members of a council that was inaugurated Nov. 7, 2022.

Data collected by the city clerk’s office shows the current council spent 339 hours, 46 minutes and 48 seconds in meetings between inauguration day and Nov. 15, 2023. Number of days totalled 102.

The meeting types included council, special council, standing committee, public hearings, in-camera and business licence hearings.

The hours don't include time Sim and councillors spent at regional (Metro Vancouver, TransLink), provincial (Union of BC Municipalities) or federal meetings (Federation of Canadian Municipalities).

Councillors in Vancouver often earn more than their base salaries, with additional money earned if they take on the role of deputy mayor and duty councillor, which both come with a $3,775 monthly salary.

Serving as acting mayor pays a monthly salary of $1,372.

Councillors who serve as Metro Vancouver directors also get paid for their work. Board committee members earn $525 for attending a meeting that runs up to four hours. A meeting that exceeds four hours pays $1,050.

Councillors or mayors who chair meetings at Metro can earn several thousand dollars in a year, depending on their role. Coun. Adriane Carr, for example, earned $35,664 in 2022 as chair of Metro’s climate action committee (now chaired by Coun. Lisa Dominato) while also serving as a director.

Expense accounts

The mayor and councillors are also entitled to expense accounts.

The 2024 annual expense allowance for Sim is $20,591. In addition, he may choose to either receive a monthly transportation allowance of $600 or be provided with a vehicle. The amended 2024 annual expense allowance for councillors is $10,193.

Councillors have two options for expense reimbursement: claim all eligible expenses, including transportation expenses, supported by receipts, or; receive an annual transportation allowance equivalent to 60 per cent of their total annual expense allowance ($6,116).

The balance of the annual expense allowance — $4,077 — is available for other expenses and receipts must be submitted to support these claims. Receipts are not required for the transportation allowance, which will be included as a taxable benefit for income tax purposes.

Sim has a separate office budget of $1.3 million, which largely goes to pay staff. He successfully added $180,000 to his budget this year in recently approving the city’s $2.15-billion operating budget.

At least $80,000 will allow for a person to be hired in the city clerks’ department “to provide administrative support to the mayor’s office.” The $100,000 will pay for additional “discretionary office expenses,” also in the mayor’s office.

The pay increases for the mayor and councillors comes this year less than a month after the majority of council approved a 7.5 per cent property tax hike for 2024. The previous year, the tax increase was an unprecedented 10.7 per cent.

“I understand the public’s concerns around property taxes and the rising cost of living, and we are working hard to continue to find more efficient ways of delivering city services, and exploring new revenue opportunities to ensure future property tax increase are kept as low as possible,” Meiszner said.

Pay cut

In the previous administration, the Kennedy Stewart-led council unanimously decided in April 2020 to take a 10 per cent pay cut to help offset revenue losses faced by the city during the pandemic. The savings amounted to about $90,000 for the year.

The cut did not continue into 2021.

In the Oct. 15 election, five politicians lost their seats — Stewart, Jean Swanson, Melissa De Genova, Colleen Hardwick and Michael Wiebe. All received in their final paycheques what the city calls “deferred remuneration.”

The amount of money was based on salary and time served.

The payouts were as follows:

• Stewart, $13,717

• De Genova, $19,567

• Swanson, $6,791

• Hardwick, $6,791

• Wiebe, $6,791

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