Mayor Brain breaks down travel expenditures

Mayor Lee Brain broke down his total 2015 expenses in a detailed Facebook post.

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain does not foresee as many trips in 2016 versus the number last year.

With the City of Prince Rupert’s 2015 Statement of Financial Information released, Mayor Lee Brain broke down his total 2015 expenses in a detailed Facebook post.

Totalling $34,857 for the year, Brain detailed his expensed travels in a chart that outlines 22 trips, when they took place, where they took place, and the purpose of the trip.

Among the locations the mayor visited were Vancouver, Prince George, Victoria, Terrace, Kitimat, Edmonton, Ottawa, Juneau, Alaska and Houston, Texas.

The trips were additionally differentiated into those taken under normal budgetary operations, or under the temporary Planning for Major Projects (PMP) budget intended for large-scale projects in the Prince Rupert area.

Brain took part in regular municipal leader conferences such as the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) in Vancouver and the North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) conference in Prince George, but also attended WCC LNG negotiations in Texas with Exxonmobil, Pacific NorthWest LNG negotiations in Vancouver (twice) and went to Ottawa for “Intergovernmental affairs and Planning for Major Projects” with the federal government under the PMP banner.

Altogether, Brain split the travel expenses through $11,865 under the normal operations budget and $22,991 under the PMP budget.

The mayor explained that the chart is all about transparency and keeping community members informed, as well as creating new relationships with key players within the projects.

“Last year we were out creating a whole bunch of new relationships with different levels of government, federally and provincially, those relationships we haven’t had in the past,” said Brain last week.

“So it was important to get right out of the gate when I got elected to make sure that we can start the process of creating those relationships,” he said, adding that in general, he’ll post social media updates on where he is during any given trip.

“Nobody’s ever really released where and when and what a mayor did. There’s usually just a report about how much a mayor spent, but not in terms of where they went, so I wanted to make sure it was full transparency for exactly what I did and how much it cost.”

For 2016, the mayor said he hasn’t been travelling near as much thanks to those already-built relationships, and he’s utilizing video-conferencing more and more.

“I’m able to call a video-conference much more easily, say than when I first came in and they didn’t know who I was,” Brain said.

There are no large trips on the horizon for the Rupert mayor in the latter half of 2016 so far, other than the annual UBCM conference in September and potentially seeing B.C. Premier Christy Clark in the summer.

Councillors Barry Cunningham claimed $2,880 in expenses in 2015, Joy Thorkelson spent $302, Blair Mirau spent $3,878, Wade Niesh spent $4,914, Gurvinder Randhawa spent $2,307 and Nelson Kinney spent $1,958.