Former Saanich mayor Richard Atwell, here seen with Emiko Yamanaka (standing to his left), a “hibakusha” (or survivor) of the Hiroshima bombing, is asking the municipality for more $4,500 to cover his trip to Japan as part of efforts to establish a sister-city relationship with Hatsukaichi City near Hiroshima. Submitted.

Former Saanich mayor wants municipality to reimburse him for trip to Japan

Atwell seeks more than $4,500 tab not in the budget

Former Saanich mayor Richard Atwell is asking the District of Saanich to reimburse him more than $4,500 dollars for a trip to Japan to help develop a sister-city relationship with a community near Hiroshima, even though the municipality lacked any budget for international travel.

Atwell filed the request in a report dated Nov. 2 — after he had lost the race for mayor to then-councillor Fred Haynes, who was sworn in as mayor on Nov. 5.

RELATED: Saanich mayor participates in Hiroshima Peace Ceremony

One of the outstanding questions concerning Atwell’s request is the basis of his claim. According to a report from Saanich’s chief administrative officer (CAO) Paul Thorkelsson, the 2018 budget did not include funds for international travel.

Thorkelsson, according to his own report, told Atwell and council that “international travel representing the District should be considered and approved by [council].”

Tara Zajac, a spokesperson for the District of Saanich, said Atwell did not ask council to approve the trip.

“Mayor Atwell advised that this travel was covered under the Council Remuneration and Expenses Policy under the provision of the mayor having authority to attend any meeting believed to be in the interests of the District,” wrote Thorkelsson in a memo to council to be considered at the regular council meeting Dec. 10.

Section 2.c of the cited document says that the “[mayor] or his delegate are authorized to attend meetings of particular importance to the municipal interest on behalf of the municipality and shall be paid in accordance with subsections e and f [registration, travel, accommodation, and meal] expenses, for expenditures made or expenses incurred.”

These expenses added up to a total of $4,535.99.

“While not a significant amount, it is important to note that there was not any funds established in the 2018 budget for the purposes of international travel by any member of [council], ” said Thorkelsson.

Coun. Susan Brice, who was the first member of the current council to respond for comment, opposed reimbursement. “Any consideration regarding financial reimbursement for this international trip should have been discussed with council prior to the travel,” she said. “That is best practise to have due process and openness.”

Coun. Ned Taylor said he would be open to reimburse Atwell for the amount that the District saved by not sending him to the annual conferences of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) and Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). He also added that Saanich stands to benefit by developing a sister-city relationship with a community in Japan, because of its forward-thinking policies on a number of issues, including transportation among others.

RELATED: Sights of Saanich bring smiles to Japanese delegation

Atwell’s trip itself took place Aug. 3 to 6. A Japanese delegation from the City of Hatsukaichi had visited Saanich in April and both communities took steps towards building a formal sister-city relationship. Saanich currently lacks such a relationship.

Atwell did not respond to questions for comment.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Green New Deal meeting in Sooke part of a larger movement

Humanity has 4,000 days left before it will be too late

Small crews battle ravenous invasive bullfrogs that gobble up native species

American bullfrogs diet includes smaller native frogs, local salamanders and songbirds

Council pursues water line extension for north Sooke

Properties affected by Highway 14 project may see water service

Verdict expected on July 22 in trial of care aide accused of sexual assault

Closing arguments heard Monday in Victoria courtroom

Victoria HarbourCats edge Elks in series opener

Claire Eccles’ jersey retired at Monday’s game

Raptors announcer credited with calming massive crowd after shooting

Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer since 2008, was praised for preventing panic from spreading

Sexting teens at risk of harms including depression, substance use: study

Use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana were also found to be associated with sexting

Deadline for cabinet to decide future of Trans Mountain expansion is today

International Trade Minister Jim Carr described the decision as ‘very significant’

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

Most Read