Council nixes spouse travel expenses

Spouses of North Cowichan councillors will have to pay their own way to next month’s UBCM huddle in Vancouver.

Council nixed Wednesday’s recommendation to foot travel and food bills for partners of councillors and the mayor to attend this year’s Union of B.C. Municipalities session, Mayor Tom Walker said.

“We changed it last year so each specific case (of paying for spouses’ travel costs) has to come to council for approval,” he said.

Walker noted paying for partners at such municipal affairs is usually “very low, about $30 a day, but there was no appetite for it (for UBCM ‘11).”

Swallowing spouses’ travel tabs never happens at the Cowichan Valley Regional District level, treasurer Mark Keber said. But Duncan council can bankroll travel costs for partners of Mayor Phil Kent, two councillors plus administrator Tom Ireland to attend functions such as UBCM, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and other events, city treasurer Peter de Verteuil said.

Meanwhile, Walker said he and an average of four councillors attend UBCM sessions and other official events. He was particularly interested in UBCM debate about how Catalyst’s Crofton pulp mill tax revolt could be cloned in other municipalities that are home to industrial smelters, oil refineries and mills.

Catalyst’s Supreme Court of Canada case will be heard in October in Ottawa, and Walker aims to attend.

Paying for his Ottawa flight and other expenses will also need council’s approval.

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