With a boom comes more responsibility.
So says the Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce, which wants to see the position of mayor become a paid full-time position.
A presentation by Harry Hooke and Audrey Gladue of the chamber made the case for at least an investigation of the possibility of the Fort being able to properly compensate and utilize a full time mayor.
While they did not criticize the job currently being done by Mayor Sandra Harwood, the two simply stated they believe with the time required to fulfill the position and with the growing needs of the community, a committee should be established to examine the feasibility of making the position full time and what the fair compensation for the role would be.
“You can’t possibly expect a person to handle all of those challenges on a part time basis,” said Hooke, referring to the increased areas of responsibility for local governments.
People instead, according to Hooke, are working on a full-time basis for part-time pay.
With the new opportunities expected to be coming with the local resources, Hooke argued the community needs to be able to develop itself enough to maintain a high enough level of development and services to attract these businesses.
Vanderhoof, Burns Lake and Prince George are all establishing committees to explore the issue of remuneration, according to Hooke, who has had discussions with Vanderhoof’s Mayor Gerry Thiessen.
“They understand that under the present scenario to attract somebody to the position you have to find somebody who is financially independent, retired and has the time or in a position of work where they are financially independent and have the time,” said Hooke.
The hope is it would be possible to open the position up to a broader range of potential candidates who could then afford to fill the position.
The task force committee will be spearheaded by the chamber and will include long-time community members or business persons, and members of the district administration, but not council or the mayor to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Hooke emphasized the need to examine the issue soon enough to make the change before the November municipal elections.
A change to the local government of this magnitude would require a referendum.
The mayor currently earns a stipend of $12,000 a year and councillors are paid an $8,400 a year stipend. Mayor and council may also claim some costs for attending other meetings outside of council on behalf of council.