Courtenay council adopted Monday a remuneration bylaw to bump the mayor’s yearly pay to $83,000, as of Jan. 1, 2023. Councillors’ pay will increase to $33,200.
Manno Theos — the lone member of council to oppose adoption — said that people are struggling during this time of recovery from the COVID pandemic.
“That struggle is deep in many cases,” he said at the May 25 meeting. “It (voting a significant increase) doesn’t sit well with a lot of the people that I’ve spoken with. The perception is it’s too large and too soon during a recovery.”
Mayor Bob Wells pointed out the significant amount of work that council conducts. Monday’s agenda, for example, exceeded 1,000 pages of reading before the meeting.
“This is a job, this is real work,” Wells said. “I don’t know many jobs where you can be publicly attacked in many ways. (But) I’d say our community is overall supportive.”
The Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association safety and security committee aims to establish and maintain a safe and thriving downtown. Its initiatives include an RCMP Trespass Sticker Program to better protect properties around-the-clock. Other projects include an alley lighting inventory, city camera mapping program, an overnight security patrol and the Morning Crew. Members of the latter have come back from a hard life to mentor others and patrol the downtown.
“We’ve put them to work in a paid position through the (Comox Valley) Transition Society,” DCBIA executive director Tracey Clarke said in a presentation. Each day, she said Morning Crew members will patrol for two hours, clean up, wake people and conduct some “amazing outreach.”
The BIA’s infrastructure committee has also undertaken projects to beautify the downtown core. These include street pole banners, wayfinding, public art and placemaking.
Council supports a joint application bid with the City of Campbell River and the CVRD to host the 2024, 2025 or 2026 B.C. 55+ Games. Pending a successful bid, the city will contribute $55,000 worth of in-kind support to the event in terms of services and facilities.
“This is a great opportunity,” CAO Geoff Garbutt said.
Formerly called the BC Seniors Games, the annual event was first held in 1988. The Comox Valley and Campbell River co-hosted the Games in 2010. This year, Victoria is the host city.
Each year, the B.C. Seniors Games Society awards the event to a different local government in the province. The City of Surrey is applying for the 2026 Games.
On average, 3,500 to 4,000 people compete in a minimum of 20 sports. Recent hosts estimate the Games garner more than $3 million of spending in the community.
Council gave second reading to a zoning amendment bylaw to allow a minimum of two lots on any lot without having to re-zone.
“Such policies allow for more efficient use of land and allow for more flexible housing arrangements,” policy planner Nancy Gothard said. “It is now considered best practice to support people to age in place.”
Gothard noted that Courtenay’s population is expected to experience the greatest increase in those 75 years and older over the next couple of decades.