Sustainable Director Diversity

On Thursday, March 9th, the following Recommendation of the SCRD Corporate and Administrative Services Committee will come before the Board:

That staff report on potential processes for a Directors’ compensation review, including but not limited to Working Groups, qualified individuals, or Citizen’s Committees.

 And that the process timeline allow implementation of any changes for the new Board elected in 2018

I will be voting in favour of the report.

It is too easy to interpret this issue as being based in self-interest. Because anything that comes of this motion would apply only to future Boards and the voice of the electorate will be heard in the interim, I would hope to minimize some of that.

There are so many in our community who serve selflessly in the ways in which they are able. The intent of this initiative would be to foster public discussion around this issue, and for the Board to consider updating aspects of its Renumeration Bylaw, so that the possibility of serving one’s community in this way is open to all, regardless of social circumstances. If elected, they should be able to resource the time that energy that our communities deserve and indeed require in these rapidly changing times.

Recent events south of the border emphasize the need to be reflective about what we value in public governance.

If we choose to be governed at a local level only by those who can currently afford it, then let’s be open and transparent about that. Many cultures have social constructs around whom they choose to govern. However, I feel like I’m on fairly safe ground in Roberts Creek when I emphasize the benefits of diversity, both socially and as an ecological principal that us humans would do well to emulate.

Historically, the role of Regional Director has been “part time”, but as the roles of Local Governments expand, as senior governments download or offload both costs and roles that they previously held, and as new challenges and new communication platforms emerge, so do time demands.  Previous Roberts Creek Directors have set a high standard in terms of their time commitment. Director “Sustainability” has been a topic at recent Local Government conferences,  during the SCRD Board’s recent mid-term Strategic Plan Review, and Provincially as laid out in a CBC article linked to below.


Back to this week’s readings once the blog post is done.

Within the first 6 months on the job I had voted on about 13 Million dollars of water infrastructure projects. Constituents can be assured that there was nothing part-time about my approach to those considerations. Water is one of over 40 services or functions that the Regional District provides, each with its own distinct budget. This year’s Budget will be in the neighbourhood of 53 Million dollars. I would suggest that the cost of part time consideration of budget proposals could easily outweigh a change in how Directors are resourced.

Ironically, recent SCRD organizational change and efficiencies have been implemented that have included reduced meeting times and have generated cost and efficiency savings at the staff level may have also resulted in reduced income for Directors. The mechanics of remuneration are as worthy of consideration as the “bottom line”. Do we value long meetings (Director per-meeting pay doubles after 3hrs), or do we value being well-prepared for those meetings (no direct renumeration for agenda reading)? Do we value being accessible to the public to hear their concerns, or do we value time spent keeping the community informed (no renumeration specifically linked to these)? Do we value supporting grassroots community groups or committees in achieving their aims, or time spent engaging with outside agencies or senior government. Of course we value it all, and it is all part of the job description. In my view the renumeration Bylaw should reflect that.

I have shared my 2016 T4 slip with the press. This year it comes in at just under $20,000 in taxable income and a further $9000 in a non-taxable expense allowance.  There are other forms of compensation with regard to conferences, health and other benefits that will be transparently laid out in a staff report should a review process go forwards. There are also other costs.

Again, I would hope that this is not interpreted as a “woe-is-me” initiative . I am deeply honoured, humbled and appreciative of the opportunities presented in this job. I would hope to extend that possibility to all across the coast should choose to run and be successfully elected. The rewards of the role are many, particularly in a community as politically astute and generous of heart as Roberts Creek.

I would emphasize again the dozens of community organizations that benefit from the service of those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to give of time and other resources.  Indeed it is what makes the Coast go around. The intent here is to consider changes that would further democratize local governance. 

Here’s a recent CBC article on the topic:

And an interesting 2015 Report from the City of Vancouver (clearly never a great direct comparison, but they often produce well-resourced, in-depth reports)

Back to reading that agenda binder.