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HomeBusinessCity hall revolving door swings housing exec to civic contractor

City hall revolving door swings housing exec to civic contractor

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Bob Mackin

The Vancouver city hall housing executive who crossed the street to a civic contractor would not have been able to do the same, had he been employed by the provincial government.

Luke Harrison, the CEO of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency, has resigned from the $161,711-a-year job to join Horizon North Camp and Catering Partnership, the supplier of temporary modular housing to City of Vancouver.

Harrison was appointed the company’s vice-president of business development in late October. A Horizon North news release said Harrison will be responsible for growing business in the government and not-for-profit social housing sectors, including First Nations, seniors, students and affordable housing initiatives.

Luke Harrison (podium) with Gregor Robertson (Twitter)

Horizon North was paid $2.989,920 by the city last year. In October 2017, Horizon North announced a $66 million contract with City of Vancouver for 600 temporary modular housing units, to be funded by B.C. Housing.

The NDP government updated the post-employment restrictions for senior management in B.C.’s public service last May, preventing senior managers from registering to lobby the government for a year.

If a senior manager had “a substantial involvement in dealings with an outside entity at any time during the 12 months immediately preceding” his or her departure from government, he or she must not accept a job, contract or directorship with that outside entity for a year after the end of employment.

“Until one year after your employment ends, you must not act for an outside entity in connection with any ongoing proceedings, transaction, negotiation or case in which the outside entity and the government are involved,” the policy states.

No such rules exist at city hall. Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who was sworn-in Nov. 5, vowed in his election platform to tighten conflict of interest rules.

“Once elections are over, voters need to have confidence that city staff and politicians aren’t seen to be in any perceived conflicts of interest. That means staff that leave city hall one day, don’t start work with major developers the next, or politicians are no longer having undisclosed meetings,” Stewart’s platform said.

Dermod Travis of IntegrityBC said it is crucial that Stewart expedite reforms to preserve public trust. 

“The mayor has a number of commitments that he has to see through in terms of transparency and ethics at city hall, he’d be well-advised to make that his number one priority,” Travis said. “It simply feeds the public cynicism that somebody must be on the take, whether they were or not it feeds that cynicism, that’s what the mayor has to prevent.”

Harrison joined VAHA in February 2017, succeeding Mukhtar Laktif, who was fired and given a $266,170 golden parachute. Harrison was promoted from the planning department, which he joined in 2015 after working as a real estate development manager with TransLink and development manager with Rize Alliance Properties.

In July, real estate general manager Bill Aujla announced his departure from city hall to the Aquilini Investment Group. Last February, former Vision Vancouver executive director Stepan Vdovine joined Amacon Developments as director of business development. Duncan Wlodarczak left Vision in May 2016 to become chief of staff for Onni. 

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