Fired society bosses get severance pay

Spending spree included trips to Vienna, Paris, Istanbul, New York, Los Angeles, Banff and Ottawa, plus spas and limousines

Housing Minister Rich Coleman

Four Vancouver anti-poverty charity executives fired for a tax-funded spending spree that included luxury foreign trips, limousines, restaurant meals and booze will receive severance pay of up to eight weeks plus accumulated vacation pay.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman said Monday the severance is required under B.C. labour law for four top executives of the Portland Hotel Society, which operates low-income housing, addiction services and a string of non-profit businesses in Vancouver’s downtown east side.

Directors of the society resigned after terminating the four executives, Mark Townsend, his wife Liz Evans, Dan Small and Kersten Stuerzbecher. Coleman said a new “professional” board will continue to examine society expenses, and if any potential fraud is discovered, information will be sent to Vancouver Police.

An audit by KPMG Forensic Inc. covered three years of expenses, 2010 through 2012. It found managers and directors expensed nearly $70,000 over three years on restaurants and more than $300,000 on travel.

Trips were to Vienna, Paris, Bristol, Istanbul, New York City, Los Angeles, Banff and Ottawa. In addition to hotel rooms, some costing more than $800 a night, there were charges for spa services, alcohol, fresh flowers, a cruise for a society manager and other questionable expenditures.

NDP leader Adrian Dix said Monday he has requested an unpaid leave of absence for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Jenny Kwan, who repaid $35,000 in travel expenses to the society on Friday. In a tearful news conference, Kwan said she had been told by her husband Dan Small that he was personally paying expenses that were actually billed to the society.

Kwan accompanied Small and their two children on a trip to Disneyland, and on another trip to Vienna and Bristol, England.

The Portland Hotel Society operates the supervised injection site for street drug users and a network of businesses including a coffee shop and a pest control service, in addition to managing multiple single-room occupancy hotels in the downtown east side.

The society receives more than $28 million a year from the B.C. government, the vast majority of its revenues.

 

Just Posted

Canadian Music Hall of Famer Steven Page to play Parksville

Barenaked Ladies co-founder performs at Knox United Church on June 1

Parksville Beach Festival Society launches campaign for outdoor stage

Public invited to event May 25 to help with kickoff

Crime Report: Oceanside RCMP receive 328 complaints in one-week span

Vandalism and theft of a wheelchair among listed incidents

Controversial cell tower proposal in Coombs clears another hurdle

Committee indicates Rogers satisfactorily completed requirements

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

RCMP arrest violent offender on Vancouver Island

Campbell River police struggle with suspect and take him down with a taser

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Two cats die in house fire in Nanaimo

Fire happened just after 2 p.m. Sunday on Fifth Street, one resident displaced

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

RDN looking into providing bus service 365 days a year

RDN transit committee to consider adding bus service on Christmas, New Year’s and Good Friday

One year after heartbreaking B.C. search, wife reflects on late husband

First anniversary of Ben Kilmer’s disappearance, and a search that galvanized Vancouver Island

Most Read