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

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

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Blue Moon Marquee from Duncan will be featured at the 2021 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival on June 28. (Submitted)
Blue Moon Marquee to play Vancouver Jazz Festival

What’s coming up in the A&E scene

Sonia Furstenau, MLA
Proposed Health Professions Act would eliminate barriers, guide regulations

Is your doctor a member of good standing with the BC College… Continue reading

Grade 12 students Sophia Kazakoff and Catherine Yuan accept QMS’s Stigma Free Designation award from Stigma-Free Society president, Andrea Paquette. (Submitted)
Duncan’s QMS earns ‘Stigma-Free’ designation

“No school in the province has accomplished what QMS did in such a short period of time”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read