Clarity sought by White Rock city staff on ‘discretional’ education

City council debates reimbursement eligibility of post-secondary courses.

White Rock city hall.

A request for clarification of White Rock’s council remuneration policy raised more questions than answers at a governance and legislation committee meeting Monday.

Clarification was being sought by city manager, Dan Bottrill, with regard to Policy 106, which allocates funds for “discretional educational conferences or education materials,” and was recently amended to reflect council’s four-year terms. The amounts allocated include $8,000 for the mayor and $5,400 for each councillor.

Bottrill brought the policy to the committee following a request for reimbursement for a college or university course, “to assist with their knowledge of different aspects, whether it be finance, communications, marketing or parks management,” Bottrill said.

Bottrill’s query set off a lengthy discussion amongst council on the wording of the policy and whether university courses would be eligible for reimbursement.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin noted the policy arose as a way for council members to gain insight into areas that would help them make better decisions.

“At the time, council saw the need for the occasional opportunity, where the councillor might take a seminar on land use, or community amenity contributions or zoning, that sort of thing,” Baldwin explained, noting the term ‘discretional educational conferences’ should be “easily distinguished” from other long-term courses.

Coun. Lynne Sinclair agreed, noting that her understanding was that it covered “sessions that help us to be better councillors, not something where someone gets a degree through this process.”

Coun. Helen Fathers suggested the addition of “non-accredited courses” to the wording, however, Coun. Bill Lawrence said he was “apprehensive” to make that amendment, as many post-secondary institutions offer accredited courses as “one-offs.”

“Someone might not be pursuing a full degree, but that one particular course would be beneficial in making them a better councillor,” Lawrence said.

Baldwin said he didn’t anticipate any members of council would be “going crazy” with the reimbursement opportunity.

“I always put out the warning that, hey, if you aren’t sure, just ask yourself the question, would you feel happy if this was on the front page of the Peace Arch News?” Baldwin said.

As the discussion neared the 20-minute mark, Bottrill reiterated the need for some clarity, noting he had already approved such courses for a council member in the previous year, but was still unclear on council’s intentions moving forward.

At the suggestion of Baldwin, the committee referred the issue to be brought back at the July 27 council meeting, with amended wording in the policy.

Just Posted

White Rock Renegades ‘04 named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

PHOTOS: Supercars parade to White Rock

More than a dozen cars were on display for the Drive Project

South Surrey woman promotes exercise to help fight Parkinson’s disease

‘This keeps me strong’ says Liz Holroyd Campbell, organizer of the 2019 Parkinson Superwalk

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

Most Read

l -->