Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

SLRD financials show 45% increase in number of top-paid bureaucrats

More than 30 public employees topped the $75K reporting threshold in 2023
The SLRD office in Squamish.

The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District has released its provincially-mandated Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) for 2023, giving residents a look in at where the money was going last year.

SOFI documents must be released by municipal governments before the end of June in the following year. The SLRD’s documents can be read as part of its June 26 board meeting package.

Taking a look at pay for elected officials, the SLRD paid its board members a collective $287,170 for the whole of 2023, while they claimed $35,338 in expenses.

The SLRD board has 11 members: Four area directors and seven appointees from member municipalities, with the number of municipal members determined by  population. Area directors are paid more than municipal directors, who also receive their wage as councillors.

For 2023, the SLRD paid 13 board members, with two alternate directors pulling a salary for attending meetings. 

Board chair, Jen Ford of Whistler, earned $35,238 and claimed $2,396 in expenses, while vice-chair, Vivian Birch-Jones of Area C, earned $36,606 and claimed $4,687 in expenses. 

Compared to 2022 numbers, remuneration went up. In 2022, the 18 elected officials who served on the board earned $259,429 and claimed $30,680 in expenses, making the 2023 numbers a 10.7-per-cent increase for wages, and a 15.2-per-cent increase for expenses.

On the side of the bureaucracy, SOFI documentation requires municipal governments report the wages of any public official who makes more than $75,000.

The numbers reported include retroactive pay increases, vacation pay-outs and taxable benefits, and is therefore not their salary or take home pay, but the total remuneration they received for the year.

In 2023, there were 32 employees who cleared the $75K reporting threshold, with the top-paid bureaucrat being former chief administrative officer, Craig Dalton, who earned $164,406.

Dalton departed the SLRD in September of 2023, so he only claimed a portion of his annual pay. The temporary CAO for the remainder of 2023, Nikki Gilmore, earned $96,926.

Behind Dalton, the next highest paid public employee was the SLRD’s director of finance, Suzanne Lafrance, who earned $163,763; director of protective services, Mark Phillips, who earned $158,129; director of legislative and corporate services, Angela Belsham, who earned $149,336; and director of strategic initiatives, Kristen Clark, who earned $147,593.

The 32 employees who were above the $75K reporting threshold earned the vast majority of wages paid out by the SLRD: They were collectively paid $3,428,814 of the $4,105,026 paid to all employees.

Last year was a year of significant growth in the public service for the SLRD. The year prior, in 2022, there were only 22 employees who surpassed the $75K reporting threshold that collectively earned $2,408,776 of the $3,491,342 paid to all employees.

The number breakdown reveals there was a 45-per-cent increase in high-earning employees, and those earning more than $75K collectively were paid 83.5 per cent of remuneration to employees in 2023, compared to 69 per cent of all wages in 2022.

The regional district also paid out $10.7 million to suppliers and contractors in 2023—with the reporting threshold being $25K.

There were 60 companies and suppliers that made the list, which collectively were paid $8,980,040.

Big names on the list were the Receiver General for Canada (for RCMP services), to which the SLRD paid $1.3 million. RCMP services was the only account paid more than $1 million in 2023.

Rounding out the list of top payees were Lil’wat Construction, receiving $703,801; the Municipal Pension plan, receiving $608,843; Keats Island Construction, receiving $472,526; Alliance Traffic, receiving $455,312; and BC Hydro, which was paid $395,230.

Returning to the CAO pay item, while there were two individuals who served in the role in 2023, the SLRD was also on the hunt for a new CAO in 2023, and engaged the services of headhunting firm, Leaders International.

Leaders International was paid $48,357 for its services in finding and vetting top candidates for the role of CAO, which is typically the highest-paid role in municipal government.

The new CAO, Heather Paul, stepped into the role in mid-January 2024 following the conclusion of the search.