06/04/2013 11:58 EDT | Updated 06/04/2013 12:56 EDT

Richard Stewart, Coquitlam Mayor, Defends Fairmont Hotel Stay During FCM

City of Coquitlam

Coquitlam's mayor and some councillors are under fire for a stay in a ritzy downtown hotel during the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) convention, despite living only about a half hour away.

Mayor Richard Stewart and four councillors are facing criticism from Coun. Lou Sekora for billing taxpayers $225 a night to stay in the Fairmont Waterfront hotel, when Sekora drove to the conference every day, CTV News reported.

"It means only one thing ... You're spending money like it's a bottomless well," Sekora told the network.

The normal room rate is $429 per night, but conference attendees got a discount, the network reported.

The FCM convention brought municipal politicians from across Canada to Vancouver for a conference to help them establish common goals and lobby the federal government for more funding for infrastructure and affordable housing.

For his part, Stewart is defending the hotel stay, saying that enormous benefits came to Coquitlam from politicians staying downtown during the convention, The Province reported.

Stewart said that FCM is a working conference, not a social one, and that the work stretched from 7 a.m. to midnight every day.

"I would much rather have slept at home, but $100 million in senior government funding wouldn’t have come our way (in past years) if we hadn’t been able to build these relationships," he told the newspaper.

Stewart said that Sekora, a former mayor and longtime councillor, had no complaints when the decision was made for politicians to stay in downtown Vancouver, News1130 reported.

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