Burnaby taxpayers foot $41,904 bill for VIP golfers

The City of Burnaby spent nearly $42,000 last year for councillors, commissioners and other local dignitaries to golf at Burnaby Mountain and Riverway.

In a breakdown obtained by the NOW, 18 current and former city officialsand one freeman used the city’s complimentary pass system to waive $41,904.59 in charges, including green fees, at the two Burnaby golf courses.

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Wayne Peppard, who sits on the parks commission, racked up $7,898.24 between both courses, though the vast majority was spent at Riverway. Former commissioner Jim Kozak wasn’t far behind, with $6,354.51, though he opted to spend more time on Burnaby Mountain.

Mayor Derek Corrigan had the highest golf usage out of all of city council, charging $5,717.65 to the city for some tee times. He did not respond to an interview request by the NOW.

The passes, issued annually by the parks, recreation and culture commission, grant cardholders free access to numerous city facilities with an unrestricted number of guests. Additionally, the commission approves a list of complimentary pass recipients – which includes school trustees, library board members and other nominees – for similar perks with one guest.

Other big spenders with the system include Coun. Colleen Jordan, $4,674.20; school trustee and BCA council candidate James Wang, $3,518.10; commissioner Lee Loftus, $2,677.89; and Coun. Paul McDonell, $2,633.40.

Combined with Corrigan, Peppard and Kozak, those seven members accounted for $33,473.99 in fees – nearly 80 per cent of the golf usage.

    Burnaby Mountain Riverway TOTAL Taxable
Richard Chang Councillor - $484.50 $484.50 Yes, over $100
Derek Corrigan Mayor $560.90 $5,156.75 $5,717.65 Yes, over $100
Colleen Jordan Councillor $198 $4,476.20 $4674.20 Yes, over $100
Paul McDonell Councillor $114.75 $2,518.65 $2,633.40 Yes, over $100
Lee Loftus Commissioner $674 $2,003.89 $2,677.89 No
Lance Matricardi Commissioner - $84 $84 No
Wayne Peppard Commissioner $214.60 $7,683.64 $7,898.24 No
Katy Alkins-Jang Library Board $178.80 $1,063 $1,241.8 No
Kathryn Sainty Library Board - $90 $90 No
James Wang School Board $688.10 $2,830 $3,518.10 No
Gary Wong School Board $1,196.50 $394.40 $1,590.90 No
Egon Nikolai Freeman of COB - $1,172.90 $1,172.90 No
Merrill Gordon Former Councillor $1,324.60 $74 $1,398.60 No, CCRA ruling
M.A. Christie Former Commissioner - $462 $462 No
Moira Colbourne Former Commissioner $900.75 $234.50 $1,135.25 No
George Kawaguchi Former Commissioner - $264.50 $264.50 No
Jim Kozak Former Commissioner $6,017.91 $336.60 $6,354.51 No
R.J. Smith Former Commissioner - $97 $97 No
Timo Sokkanen Former Commissioner $49.50 $359.65 $409.15 No

The pass program has a yearly limit of $50,000 across all users. Last year, cardholders collectively reached $47,275.78, meaning golf accounted for more than 88 per cent of the system’s use.

It’s unclear if other Lower Mainland cities have similar systems, though a City of Vancouver spokesperson confirmed they do not issue complimentary passes for city facilities to their officials.

Coun. Sav Dhaliwal, who chairs the parks, recreation and culture commission, said the card promotes the city’s facilities to potential new users, as commissioners may bring friends or business associates along. It is also meant as a tip of the hat to commissioners and councillors for their work.

“This is a bit of an acknowledgement back to the people who work as commissioners or councillors, who have had a part in developing these facilities or serving on a committee,” he said. “Commissioners don’t get paid (to hold their positions), so this is sort of a small token of appreciation from the city for their years of service.”

Dhaliwal also noted the mayor and councillors are taxed for their use of the card if it exceeds $100, and if they bring someone with them to a facility, they are taxed for their guest’s use. However, freemen, current and former commissioners, and library and school board members are exempt.

@jacobzinn

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