COLUMN: Sometimes your name in print isn’t so good

There was a time in our past that the denizens of Abbotsford would revel in the fact that our town was mentioned in the Vancouver media.

There was a time in our not too deep and dark past that the denizens of Abbotsford would revel in the fact that our town was mentioned in the Vancouver media.

It seemed, in a way back then, that finally our existence had been recognized . . . that we were, for a brief period, no longer a rural backwater. We got our name in print, if not in lights.

However, thanks to progress, growth and the Bacons, Abbotsford has become much more recognizable and identifiable in the Metro media. That noted, most people living west of Port Mann still aren’t sure where we are, even though our burgeoning burg is now but 40 minutes from the concrete canyons of “the city.”

For some in the environs of Vancouver, we are the cheap option to the city’s housing prices . . . “well Sally, we can’t afford more than a shoe box here, so (sigh) I guess we’ll have to move all the way to Abbotsford to put a roof over our heads and a piece lawn under our feet.”

Then I read the Sun’s front page story last week about the top 10 salaries being dished out from our tax dollars to executives in Crown-owed agencies.

The coterie of million-dollar men, of whom I have long and vicariously wished to be among, though due to age and lack of motivation will never achieve, may actually deserve their remuneration.

They are, for the most part, running huge organizations and, for example, if you want perhaps the world’s largest non-military ‘navy’ that is BC Ferries to operate properly, you better have people better than the drivers of the Queen of the North at the helm.

If, however, you take issue with these salaries, some perspective might be needed by comparing what hockey players earn simply to put bums in seats and commercials on television.

So, as I turned from the front page to the continuation of the story, I was a little surprised to see, under the headline “The highest-paid public servants in B.C. (all in CAPS by the way)” a graph which had, at the top of the leader board, Abbotsford.

Seems that our city hall has British Columbia’s highest growth rate of bureaucrats earning more than $100,000 a year – a whopping 61.8 per cent growth this past year over the previous one. Those moving into six figures jumped from 55 employees to 89 in just 12 months!

Again, I don’t deny the necessity of paying anyone fair value for their worth, but has Abbotsford really grown so quickly that it needs to boost its senior executive numbers by 62 per cent in one year alone?

And with that rate of “growth,” along with myriad other increases in the cost of operation of our city, the tax burden and attendant price hikes here may eventually be sufficient that people will, instead of moving from Vancouver, move to Vancouver for an affordable place to live.

But, before I have the mayor and councillors down my neck, I will admit that the numbers above only indicate salary growth, and not necessarily an increase in bodies. Someone earning $99,000 in 2011, and now makes $101,000, will have met the increase threshold, but is not a new hire.

The point, however, is … does Abbotsford really need so many people earning six figures?

markrushton@abbynews.com