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

Sailings filling up on Northern Sea Wolf

There is a strong demand for the service

New ownership group presents Mount Timothy Resort plans

‘More activity and more people on the hill means more fun’

Thunderstorms in forecast for much of Cariboo Chilcotin

Special weather statements, concerns of flash flooding, for southern B.C. regions

Two Nuxalk artists awarded YVR Art Foundation scholarships

Several Nuxalk artists have won the award, some more than once

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

VIDEO: Protesters in Penticton gather to rally against sleeping-on-sidewalk bylaw

The proposed bylaw would outlaw sitting or lying on the city’s downtown sidewalks

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Most Read