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

Siebring concerned about tax clawback on council pay

North Cowichan councillor to ask for report after federal tax changes

Review: Colin James show in Cowichan a homecoming

Canadian bluesman Colin James organized a family reunion at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Cowichan hockey tournament ‘means everything’ for families who’ve lost loved ones

Addition of alumni games gives friends and the community a chance to show their support

Hottest jam session in recording history hits the stage at Chemainus Theatre

Million Dollar Quartet returns to the Chemainus Theatre Festival from March 23 to April 14

Hottest jam session in recording history hits the stage at Chemainus Theatre

Million Dollar Quartet returns to the Chemainus Theatre Festival from March 23 to April 14

Coming up in Cowichan: Kinder Morgan protest; Sportacular; Walk for Alzheimer’s

It’s part of a Canada-wide National Day of Action to Defend the Water

Cowichan Coffee Time: Fundraisers take centre stage

And that’s a wrap! Amy Oakes has finished her 11th year canvassing

Comox Valley hospital operating above patient capacity

The new healthcare facility averaged a 110 per cent patient volume between October and February

BREAKING: B.C. mother hit in truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

PHOTOS: Students exhibit stunning paper couture dresses

22 paper made gowns will be on display at Vancouver’s Oakridge Centre until March 27

BCHL Today: Prince George avoids elimination with game five win

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Suspect arrested and charged for assault on autistic man

Parmvir Chahil has strong B.C. ties; two others charged with accessory after the fact

Uber self-driving crash video calls safety, rules into question

Experts say footage shows that vehicle’s sensors should have spotted pedestrian, initiated braking

Most Read