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Local MLA’s living expenses among Victoria’s highest

Bill Routley celebrates his election victory in May of 2009. He’s back to commuting again after a stint of living part-time in Victoria. -
Bill Routley celebrates his election victory in May of 2009. He’s back to commuting again after a stint of living part-time in Victoria.
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The cost of democracy in British Columbia can be found on the Ministry of Finance website.

That’s where a list of MLA salaries and expenses is posted.

Cowichan Valley MLA Bill Routley was noted this week as one of the top living expense spenders in the province at $21,683.

His salary is the basic $101,859, and he spent $16,845 on travel.

The first-term MLA dissected his costs for the News Leader Pictorial.

“When I first started the job I was commuting back and forth, and I even tried living in the motor home that’s jointly owned by my friend and I, but that clearly wasn’t working — I had to be move it around all the time,” Routley said yesterday.

“One of the options available (to MLAs) is to rent, so I leased a place to call home while in Victoria, and during the first session that was really valuable to have, because of the amount of research I was doing.”

Routley explained the steep learning curve for first-time MLAs is lessened by hours of reading and research.

“I found commuting back and forth didn’t leave me enough time to do the job, which includes my critic role (for forestry) and the select standing committee on finance,” he said.

Now Routley is once again commuting from Cowichan to the capital, and added travel costs are incurred when he travels for his finance committee and critic roles.

“My travel has been to places like up to Mackenzie, over to Williams Lake, and I even toured Dawson Creek,” he said. “I went to the plants there, and visited with forest workers as part of the critic role.”

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley spent $16,421 in capital city living expenses, and $18,791 in travel, for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011.

In addition to his $101,859 salary, Doug also received a $8,903 allowance for his role as a deputy chair of the committee looking at the Freedom of Information Act.

Collectively, B.C.’s 85 MLAs cost the province $14 million in the 2010/2011 year.

Individual MLA travel expenses ranged from $213 to $58,457. Living expenses ranged from $0 to $22,877.

They’re permitted to spend $61 a day on meals while on official business and not at home. The capital living allowance for those outside the Capital Regional District essentially has three options.

MLAs can be reimbursed up to $19,000 a year on accommodation — such as a rental, lease or home purchased — in the capital, or be given $1,000 a month without providing supporting documentation.

They can also opt to stay in hotels when in Victoria, up to a maximum of $17,000 a year.

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