A GoFundMe page was set up last week in support of Coun. Sam Waddington after his breakfast meeting expenses were questioned publicly at a council meeting by Mayor Sharon Gaetz.
The tongue-in-cheek page illustrated with a plate of Eggs Benedict managed to raise $290 over the weekend.
“To alleviate the strain from the taxpayers of Chilliwack, we band together to cover the two breakfasts that call Sam Waddington’s impeccable character and integrity into question,” according to the introduction for the Gofundme page titled ‘Breakfast Meeting Fund.’
“Join us in paying for these breakfasts, and as many other breakfasts as you like.”
If the City of Chilliwack won’t accept the funds, according to the GoFundMe blurb, the plan is to donate the money to the local Starfish Pack Program charity.
“We respect the work that Sam Waddington does for our community, and want to send a clear message: Breakfast is on us.”
Mayor Sharon Gaetz announced at the last council meeting that she had filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to see the breakdown of Coun. Waddington’s $17,240.48 in expenses for 2018.
Most of the expenses were related to Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) meeting attendance.
The FCM costs alone, for Waddington, including flights, conference fees, the AGM and board meetings, came to $9,728.67.
The criteria for getting the FCM travel costs covered were restricted in September 2017 to communities with population under 55,000. That means Chilliwack no longer has these costs covered, despite not having to pay them for years, and that is why the expense total was higher than last year.
Mayor Gaetz asked about the in-room dining charges claimed by Coun. Waddington for breakfast, on two occasions for groups of people, at a cost of about $75 and $93 each. Gaetz later called for greater transparency on the matter – maybe even the need to post expense breakdowns online.
Waddington defended his expenses, stating for the price of “Eggs Benedict and orange juice” if a municipal politician can get the ear of busy federal ministers or senior staff in this way, that has value for taxpayers, and the city.
At the end of the meeting, council voted to ask city staff to conduct a review of how the expenses incurred by city council are disclosed to the public.
“I stand by the statements that I made about my expenses yesterday in Council, and I am proud of what these expenses mean,” Waddington posted on Facebook in reaction. “Every dollar spent means that I have spent time away from my business, my community, my friends and my family in order to do the work that Chilliwack residents elected me to do.”