Courtenay joins Comox, Cumberland in voting against pay for airport board members

In a 4-3 verdict, Courtenay council voted Monday against compensating directors of the Comox Valley Airport Commission.

In a 4-3 verdict, Courtenay council voted Monday against compensating directors of the Comox Valley Airport Commission.

The commission has been seeking advice from Valley councils about amending a bylaw that prevents directors from profiting from their positions. Comox and Cumberland council earlier opposed the idea of paying the CVAC board, which commissioned a study to identify reasons for and against moving towards a compensated model.

Coun. Jon Ambler, while appreciating the work of CVAC board members, motioned to completely oppose compensation.

The former base commander at CFB Comox  considers the study to be interesting but “unbalanced” in its comparison with other non-profit transportation boards across Canada. He notes 19 Wing Comox oversees aspects such as air traffic control and operations services while CVAC runs the passenger terminal.

“It’s not the same as running an airport,” Ambler said.

Couns. Ronna-Rae Leonard, Manno Theos and Doug Hillian supported Ambler’s motion. Mayor Larry Jangula, Starr Winchester and Bill Anglin were opposed.

If board members choose to pay themselves, Leonard said the bill would fall on taxpayers. She values the work of CVAC, but feels it is unfortunate the issue was raised and is concerned the public will now look at the commission in a different light.

Jangula said the money would come from CVAC’s operating budget and has no problem with board members receiving a small stipend, considering they sacrifice a great deal of time, including weekends. To his understanding, CVAC has trouble finding directors.

Ambler, however, said CVAC consistently turns away board applicants. Hillian, too, is not aware of a problem attracting skilled board members.

“I don’t think the case has been made,” Hillian said.

Anglin was “torn” on the issue. To characterize CVAC as opportunistic is unfair, he said. At the same time, he feels an honorarium is a sign that takes away from the primary work.

“I struggle with this,” Anglin said.

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