Coquitlam officials under fire for ritzy Vancouver hotel stay
Published Monday, June 3, 2013 6:35PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 4, 2013 12:46PM PDT
A Coquitlam councillor is raising alarm bells over other civic officials staying in a ritzy hotel during a conference that was held just a short drive away in Vancouver.
Lou Sekora says he drove to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference, while taxpayers picked up the tab at the Fairmont Waterfront hotel for five other councillors and the Coquitlam mayor.
"It means only one thing," Sekora told CTV News. "You're spending money like it's a bottomless well."
The FCM conference attracted civic officials from across Canada. It's about a 30-kilometre drive to the conference facility from Coquitlam.
If someone booked a hotel room at the Fairmont Waterfront today, it would be $429 per night. Conference-goers got a discount to $225 .
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said the city paid about $4,000 altogether. He said that was worth the money for the extra chances to network and invite investment to the city.
"Each one of those nights I didn't get to my room until 11 or 12 and I had meetings at 7 in the morning. You could do it [without a hotel room], but you wouldn't get results," he said.
When asked if he could stay at a cheaper downtown hotel, Stewart said the hotel was connected to the conference.
"You have to be downtown, where connections are being made," he said.
Sekora didn't buy it.
"The convention finishes, and then it's party time. Pour me about 14 drinks and we'll 'network,' " he said.
Of the cities that returned calls from CTV News, Abbotsford and Maple Ridge said four and three councillors stayed in hotels for the conference respectively.
But closer to the city, Langley Township said the four attendees spent one night each in a hotel. Port Coquitlam said one of the five attendees stayed in the hotel.
No Burnaby officials stayed in a hotel. New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright stayed in the Pan Pacific Hotel on the taxpayer tab, but four other attendees from the city did not.
Only New Westminster Councillor Betty McIntosh paid for her own hotel room.