No Crack Smoking at Richmond City Hall, Just Hefty Tour Fees

This story came out of a general council meeting I attended on Monday and can be found here in the Richmond News.

Richmond’s diligent and professional Mayor Malcolm Brodie laughed at the idea people would pay to see him whilst on a city hall tour.

“They all want to see me,” quipped Brodie sarcastically, as city council this week discussed a new fee schedule for city hall tours and delegation visits.

And while Brodie’s actions and demeanour in running a city are a universe away from Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford, his city is hoping to cash in on delegation visits and city hall tours, much like Canada’s biggest city.

Staff presented council with a recommendation that for-profit groups be charged anywhere from $500 for a basic city hall tour to $2,000 for a full-day “study tour,” where a group obtains information about the city’s best practices for delivering municipal services. By comparison, Toronto charges $3,000 for a full-day study tour. Brodie requested the fees be cut in half.

City hall staff at Burnaby, Surrey and Vancouver had no immediate knowledge of fees for similar study tours and no scheduled fees are posted on their respective websites.

Richmond will not be charging students or non-profit groups for basic tours – which account for most of the visits through council chambers.

Staff believe the fees are necessary to make up for staff hours spent leading for-profit delegations around city hall. In the last two years, such requests occurred 11 times.

Coun. Linda Barnes was happy to know the report wasn’t targeting student groups and other interested citizens.

Such groups can also rest easy not having to deal with a crack-smoking mayor – basic city hall tours for children were suspended in Toronto last November in the wake of Ford’s scandal.