EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been edited to remove incorrect information that was originally provided by the City of Summerside. Only two elected officials lodged in the FCM conference centre while the other stayed at a nearby hotel while city staff stayed at a third party hotel and bed and breakfast.
SUMMERSIDE - The City of Summerside has released how much it cost to send nine people to the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) meetings in Quebec City from May 30 to June 2.
According to the city’s Finance Department, the total was $32,175.24.
That amount includes meals, accommodations, registrations to the conference, travel and the cost for the city to set up a trade booth during the event. Most of the city’s delegation was in Quebec from May 28 to June 3.
The only two members of council that did not attend the event were Greg Campbell and Brian McFeely. Coun. Bruce MacDougall attended but his expenses were paid by the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities, of which he is the president.
Mayor Basil Stewart and those councillors who did attend all had expenses ranging from about $3,200 to $3,660.
The city also sent three staffers, including the chief administrative officer, economic development officer and client service officer.
“(The three staffers) attended the FCM conference as an opportunity to promote the city and to raise its profile in general,” read a statement from the city.
Staff expenses ranged from about $1,800 to $1,930.
The city’s trade booth at the conference centre cost $5,510.23.
Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart said Friday that despite the cost, attending the annual FCM conference is a worthwhile endeavour. Stewart is a former vice-president and president of the organization.
That organization is a direct link between small communities like Summerside and those holding most of the public purse strings, the federal government. The more municipalities that send strong delegations to the annual conference the better the results are for all regions, towns and cities. There is strength in numbers, said Stewart.
The previous city council under former mayor Bill Martin introduced a policy in 2016 that, in addition to city staff, only four councillors plus the mayor would travel for FCM conferences. That council was criticized the year prior for paying for six councillors and the mayor to go to Edmonton for that year’s FCM conference.
Stewart said he’d rather each councillor make the determination on their own.
“My opinion is that I leave it up to councillors if they want to go. It’s a good education for councillors and an experience to meet the other councillors across the country, talk with them,” said Stewart.
“I have no idea who may want to go next year, but I will leave it up to councillors if they want to go because I think it’s a great experience. The city has benefitted greatly financially because of FCM’s efforts,” he added.
The City of Charlottetown spent almost $44,000 to send seven members of council and three city staff to the FCM meetings this year.