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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore Rotary Club raises $20,000 with Golf Ball Drop fundraiser

Nearly 4,000 golf balls poured onto Olympic View golf course Saturday

Construction slows weekend traffic at Millstream overpass

West Shore RCMP recommend Leigh Road exit instead

TRAFFIC: Saanich emergency crews responding to Pat Bay Highway collision

Incident took place at Haliburton Road intersection

Saanich race car driver shifts gears as pandemic cuts U.S. season short

Bill Okell, 65, sets sights on Canadian racing circuit for 2020

Chorus expands online options to in-person rehearsal in Langford, Oak Bay

Free, non-auditioned SingYourJoy recruits those aged 16 to 29

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read