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

BC senior championship: Tie breakers to decide men’s, Richter goes undefeated in women’s

Marilou’s Richter’s Penticton/Kamloops team cruises to final with perfect record.

Firefighters extinguish early-morning blaze in Rossland

Neighbour alerted family of four, no injuries reported

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

Police share more details on occupants and suspicious van in Fruitvale

Vehicle in question offered young girl a ride to school on Feb. 19

Senior curling provincials setting up for exciting finish

Standings tight as Senior curling teams push for provincial playoffs

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

Junior Team Canada brings home gold to B.C., again

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

Sledder dies near Fernie

Fernie Search and Rescue was tasked by the RCMP to respond to a sledder in medical distress

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Most Read