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Bob Mackin 

The Deputy Attorney General gave thumbs up for almost 200 court administrators and sheriffs from across B.C. to hold a leadership conference at River Rock Casino Resort, even after the NDP government revealed it was a magnet for whale gamblers from China and dirty money. 

Documents obtained exclusively by theBreaker, under the freedom of information law, show that Deputy Minister Richard Fyfe gave approval Oct. 2, 2017 for the Court Services Branch to hold its second annual leadership conference at B.C.’s biggest casino. 

River Rock Casino Resort (Great Canadian Gaming)

“The evaluations from last year were overwhelmingly positive, thus the planning for this year started in spring 2017 and we are set to go Nov. 2 and 3,” wrote assistant deputy minister Lynda Cavanaugh to Connie Richter, Fyfe’s executive operations manager. “My apologies for not obtaining approval from the [Deputy Attorney General] earlier on. Although I have mentioned this to him I neglected to formally request approval, though it is implied in the note above.”

Fyfe’s signature is on a printed copy of Cavanaugh’s email. Cavanaugh had signed the contract with River Rock on July 14, four days before Premier John Horgan was sworn-in. 

It is not known whether Attorney General David Eby was consulted or even knew that the Court Services Branch continued to hold the conference at River Rock. Ministry communications staff did not respond by theBreaker’s deadline on Jan. 18.

Fyfe was assistant deputy attorney general in October 2010 when the BC Liberal government agreed to pay the $6 million legal bill for former aides Dave Basi and Bob Virk after their plea bargain halted the BC Rail corruption trial. The attorney general at the time was Mike de Jong, who is running to be leader of the BC Liberals.

On Sept. 22, 2017, Eby released an anti-money laundering report by MNP from July 2016 that had been suppressed by de Jong while he was the minister responsible for gambling promotion and regulation. The report said River Rock had accepted single cash buy-ins of $500,000 from gamblers with no known source of funds. 

Deputy Attorney General Richard Fyfe (BC Gov)

“Interviews have confirmed that players are indeed wealthy non-residents or business persons with interests both in Vancouver and China, coming to Vancouver to gamble,” said the MNP report. “While the patron may be bona fide, the unsourced cash being accepted by the casino may be associated with criminal activity and poses significant regulatory, business and reputation risk.”

Eby appointed anti-money laundering expert Peter German to review Metro Vancouver casinos. His report is expected in spring. 

The documents obtained by theBreaker show that $91,650 was budgeted for the 2017 conference. 

A May 16, 2016 briefing note for Fyfe, prepared in advance of that year’s conference, said the last time Court Services Branch held such a gathering was more than nine years previous. 

“Holding a leadership event in Richmond, likely close to the airport, will allow for a maximum number of participants to attend said event while mitigating costs,” said the briefing note. “The (2016) conference will be held in September during the Provincial Court Judges’ Conference to mitigate the workload.”

The briefing note said two identical one-day leadership sessions were held over a three day period, to allow half the team to travel and the other half to remain on the job. 

The agenda for the 2017 event included an opening welcome from Cavanaugh and B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson and Provincial Court Chief Judge Thomas Crabtree. 

In the United States, the General Services Administration spent $1 million on a 2010 Las Vegas conference. The agency’s administrator resigned amid the spending scandal. 

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MAG-2017-74020 by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin  The Deputy Attorney General gave thumbs

Bob Mackin

Toronto is the only Canadian city that made the 20-city cut for Amazon’s quest to build a second headquarters.

The Seattle e-tail giant, one of the world’s most-valuable corporations, received bids from 238 cities last October, and issued the shortlist on Jan. 18.

Toronto’s bid touted its diversity, skilled and educated talent, lower corporate taxes and labour costs, infrastructure and land.

The 192-page, Olympic-style bid book was signed by Toronto Global chairman Mark Cohon, the former CFL commissioner, and CEO Toby Lennox. It included letters from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Kathleen Wynne. Toronto offered 10 sites, including Harbourfront. 

Best of all, it was proactively released. You can read it here

In this case, the T in T-dot also means transparency.

Can’t say the same about British Columbia bids.

Victoria suburb Langford made a 55-page pitch, but 54 of those pages are all blacked out.

The B.C. government threw-in $50,000 for a Metro Vancouver pitch. But that bid book was withheld entirely because the Office of Premier John Horgan claims the bid book is protected by cabinet confidentiality and contain policy advice or recommendations, and it fears disclosure would harm intergovernmental relations and financial or economic harm to a public body.

theBreaker will complain to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. A precedent, however, was already set in 2003 when the successful Vancouver bid book to the International Olympic Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics was published.

B.C. had little chance of being shortlisted for Amazon HQ2, because of its proximity to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. The only city in the Pacific time zone to make the top 20 was Los Angeles, which is more than 1,000 miles south.

Foi Request Oop 2017 73473 by BobMackin on Scribd

Amazon Bid Redacted Langford by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Toronto is the only Canadian

Bob Mackin 

Less than a week since Vancouver’s mayor announced he wouldn’t run for re-election in October, theBreaker has confirmed that Gregor Robertson used a Gmail address to send and receive thousands of email messages between early 2014 and late 2017. 

Vancouver’s mayor and a failed presidential candidate: both hid their email.

theBreaker discovered last fall that lame duck Robertson used his personal Google email account to receive civic documents in 2016 and subsequently asked for all of Robertson’s correspondence on that address with any city hall official between Jan. 1, 2014 and Oct. 20, 2017. 

City hall was supposed to respond by Dec. 4, but invoked a delay to Jan. 18. 

On Jan. 15, three days before the new deadline, city hall received approval from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for a further delay of 100 business days to June 13.

OIPC officer James Gartshore turned-down the city’s application for a 250-business day delay, which would have prevented disclosure of the mayor’s email until after the Oct. 20 civic election. 

City hall claimed there is such a large number of records to search that it would unreasonably interfere with city hall operations to meet the deadline. 

In his reasons for decision, Gartshore wrote: “The city has identified at least 6,213 pages of potentially responsive records for this request. 

“Based on the information provided to the OIPC in the city’s request for approval, it appears that the city has been diligently processing this request and meeting the time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the public body.”

Gartshore required city hall to immediately inform theBreaker of the delay and suggested the city should avoid a June 13 document dump.

“The city should release reviewed records to the applicant in stages as the review progresses,” he wrote. “The city should not delay releasing records merely to permit a ‘bulk release’ unless it is absolutely necessary for a global consideration of the disclosure package.” 

In a Dec. 12 response to a separate request, for Robertson’s Gmail to and from nine party insiders and real estate developers, city access to information and privacy director Barbara Van Fraassen claimed Robertson doesn’t conduct city business on his personal email account, but “city business-related emails received on this account are forwarded to the appropriate City of Vancouver department or the Mayor’s City of Vancouver account and then deleted.” 

When she was B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham advised in 2015 against using personal email accounts for government business. She told elected and appointed government workers across the province that work-related email in a personal account was subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. 

“The use of personal email accounts for work purposes can give the perception that public body employees are seeking to evade the freedom of information process,” Denham wrote. 

Failed 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is the most-famous politician to take extreme measures to hide her email. She avoided charges for using a private email server while she was Secretary of State. Her husband, ex-president Bill Clinton, was accused of tampering when he held a private meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on his private jet in June 2016 in Phoenix.

“…there were literally thousands of people voting last November for the very first time. My commitment to them, on behalf of every member of my team, is that I will not let you down on making city hall more open and accountable.” –Gregor Robertson in his Dec. 8, 2008 swearing-in speech

In late 2015, Denham began to investigate Vancouver city hall. Her June 2016 report found it routinely broke the section of the FOI law that requires public servants to assist citizens in accessing information about their government. She noted city hall was discriminating against reporters and guilty of “inappropriate delays, failure to meet legislated timelines, missing documentation, incomplete responses, and adversarial communication with applicants.” 

Denham, now the United Kingdom commissioner, launched the investigation in the wake of revelations that Robertson’s first chief of staff, Mike Magee, was mass-deleting email from his city hall account and using his Convergence Communications lobbying company email address to receive city hall-related messages.

When Robertson came to power in 2008, he promised in his swearing-in speech that he would make city hall more open and accountable.

“I will not let you down,” he vowed. 

2017-402 – OIPC Formal Extension – 100 Days by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin  Less than a week since Vancouver’s

Bob Mackin 

Vision Vancouver raised more than $220,000 in corporate donations for last October’s civic by-election, mainly from a small group of real estate tycoons. 

Cardona (left) and Robertson (Vision)

In Elections BC campaign finance returns published Jan. 15, the majority party on city council reported receiving $25,000 each from the De Cotiis family’s Onni and Amacon and a combined $24,500 from four of Concord Pacific tycoon Terry Hui’s companies. 

The $25,000 donation from Onni president Rossano De Cotiis was dated Oct. 16, two days after the Oct. 14 vote. Three days later, on Oct. 19, De Cotiis agreed in-writing to give city hall part of Onni’s Pearson-Dogwood lands in Marpole for a temporary modular housing project to house homeless people for $1 a year, until 2022.

Onni’s chief of staff is Duncan Wlodarczak, who left Vision Vancouver and joined Rossano De Cotiis’s company last May. Wlodarczak spent three-and-a-half years working for Vision in a variety of positions, from candidate support and community outreach to operations and partnerships.

Wlodarczak (left) and Robertson (Facebook)

Onni received an illegal $1.56 million waiver on development cost levies for its 43-storey Charleson condo tower in Yaletown. Onni repaid the funds in late 2016 after Global News discovered what the Vision Vancouver-dominated city hall called a mistake. Last spring, city manager Sadhu Johnston recommended not sending the matter to an outside firm for investigation

Other big money real estate donors to Vision’s war chest included Coromandel ($35,000), Shato Holdings ($25,000), Rize Alliance ($20,000), and Westbank Projects ($15,000). 

Vancouver Taxi Association ($10,000) and Vision bagman Joel Solomon’s Interdependent Investments ($2,500) were the only non-real estate donations of the 16. 

Vision also reported $29,400 from unions and $26,225 from individuals. Of the $278,125 raised, it spent $77,351.60 on candidate Diego Cardona’s fifth-place campaign. The reports do not show how much Vision paid to resolve Cardona’s $1,000-plus in traffic fines, which theBreaker exclusively revealed.

The rest of Vision’s fundraising revenue, $180,487.06, went to winning three seats on the NDP-resurrected school board. The previous BC Liberal government fired the school board in 2016 over a budget dispute.

NPA newcomer Hector Bremner, a lobbyist and former aide to Rich Coleman, won the city council seat vacated by Vision’s Geoff Meggs. Meggs quit to become NDP Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff. Turnout was a disappointing 11%. 

The by-election was the last in Vancouver before the NDP provincial government amended municipal campaign finance laws to ban corporate and union donations and set a $1,200 donation limit by individuals. 

In the 2014 general election, nearly all major parties that fielded candidates, including Vision and the NPA, released preliminary lists of donors before election day. In 2017, Vision and the NPA were the only two that refused to show their preliminary fundraising lists.  

NPA reported $100,012.45 income and spent $78,965.23 on Bremner’s campaign. It said it received $33,250 in corporate donors and $20,450 from individuals, and reported $46,312.45 in transfers from the party’s account. 

Bremner’s biggest single donor, at $10,000, was longtime BC Liberal bagman and NPA supporter Peter Brown. Three Terry Hui companies donated a combined $8,000. Polygon Homes, Stubos Capital and Ron Toigo’s Italian Oven Restaurant gave $5,000 each, said the NPA return.

Robertson revealed Jan. 10 that he would not run for a fourth term as Vancouver mayor. He denied that his failure to solve the city’s affordable housing crisis under his nine-year reign was the reason.

Vision Vancouver remains the majority party on city council with six seats, followed by the NPA (four) and Greens (one). 

UPDATE – Feb. 9: Meanwhile, the man who ran Vision’s office and fundraising machine from March 2012 to July 2017 has resurfaced with another branch of the De Cotiis famiglia.

The party’s former executive director, Stepan Vdovine, had a cup of coffee last summer with the Horgan Horde, as an aide to Tourism Minister Lisa Beare. His wife, Mira Oreck, is Horgan’s Vancouver-based director of stakeholder relations. 

Vdovine’s LinkedIn profile says he joined Amacon Developments as director of business development this month.  The residential, commercial and hospitality developer and landlord owned by siblings Lilliana, Teresa, Donato, Luca and Marcello De Cotiis. 

 

The next civic election is Oct. 20. 

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Bob Mackin  Vision Vancouver raised more than $220,000

Gregor Robertson over-promised and under-delivered. When he threw his hat in the ring for the Vancouver mayoralty in 2008, he said he was going to end street homelessness by 2015 and make city hall open and accountable. 

Instead, he imposed bike lanes across the city, helped party donors build luxury towers to sell offshore, and made Vancouver city hall one of the most secretive governments in Canada.

Robertson revealed Jan. 10 that he won’t run again for the mayoralty, after leading Vision Vancouver to three city council majorities. On this special edition of theBreaker.news podcast, host Bob Mackin looks at Robertson’s empty legacy, through Robertson’s own words. 

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theBreaker.news Podcast
theBreaker.news Podcast
theBreaker.news Podcast: Mayor Gregor Robertson, in his own words
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Gregor Robertson over-promised and under-delivered. When he

Bob Mackin 

A newly released list of suspicious cash transactions and cheating by gamblers offers a further glimpse into River Rock Casino Resort, which is under the microscope amid the ongoing B.C. Lottery Corporation scandal.

River Rock Casino Resort (Great Canadian Gaming)

The B.C. government published a summary of 400 reports from the Great Canadian Gaming Corp. flagship for July 4 to Oct. 2, 2017 on its freedom of information disclosure website Jan. 8. Most entries on the list read “Money Laundering (SCTs),” but it is not confirmed that all the transactions were money laundering incidents. Transactions included clandestine passing of quantities of poker chips and deliveries of large sums of cash to gamblers at the casino.

Casinos are required to report suspicious cash transactions and cheating to the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch as soon as possible. It is rare, however, for the reports to be shared with local police.

Great Canadian Gaming vice-president Chuck Keeling declined comment. 

Transactions on 10 of the days caught the eye of theBreaker. Names of the gamblers were censored by the Attorney General’s ministry. 

On Jan. 8, theBreaker exclusively reported that B.C. Lottery Corporation’s anti-money laundering director, Ross Alderson, mysteriously quit in December. Also, a BCLC document obtained by theBreaker revealed a dispute with GPEB caused major havoc with casino security after GPEB briefly cancelled BCLC’s information-sharing agreement with the RCMP in 2016.  

July 6

Two poker chip pass incidents. File 17-38470: 20 x $5,000 chips passed in the washroom (editor’s note: by hand, it is assumed); and on File 17-38510: $30,000 “to an unknown Asian male.”

July 10 

File 17-39434: Bought in for 2,000 x $50 bills for a total $100,000 and left site without getting his chips/no play. Recorded for information purposes. 

July 19 

File 17-41010: Attempted to buy in with approximately 100k in mixed bils. Transaction refused as a cash drop off.

July 24

File 17-41868: Patron (censored) bought in $200,000 with 6,000 x $20 and 1,600 x $50 bills and left site. Patron has not returned to play.

July 31

Two $100,000 buy-ins. 

File 17-43336: 1,000 x $100 bills. File 17-43413: 2,000 x $20 bills and 1,200 x $50 bills. 

Sept. 11

File 17-51516: Patron (censored) attempts to buy in $90,000 in $20 bills but was denied. Note (censored) assocate ) returns and attempts a $60,000 with what appears to be the same cash and was denied as well.

Sept. 19 

File 17-52175: (Censored) bought in $27,360 using 1,368 x $20 bills and (censored) started feeding 3 different $1 machines in the private slot room with $20 bills and cashed out with little play.

Sept. 21

File 17-53551: Unidentified Caucasian male observed placing small denomination bills into various slot machines without play. Approximate total of currency placed into machines without play $9,450 (945 x $100 bills). 

Sept. 26

File 17-54731: (censored) attempted to buy-in $4,400 using 220 x $20 after meeting an awaiting vehicle and using false ID. 

Sept. 28 

File: 17-55130: (censored) bought in a total of $111,340 in $20s (5,567 pieces) in two transactions. 5,501 x $20 and 66 x 20. 

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Bob Mackin  A newly released list of suspicious

Bob Mackin 

(News 1130)

The news director for the Vancouver radio station that was a trailblazer in social media blames “doing too many things too quickly” for a lapse in proofreading that led to a major Jan. 11 mistake on its Twitter feed.

The Office of the Premier announced that Pat Horgan, Premier John Horgan’s 71-year-old brother, had died Jan. 6 after a battle with cancer.

News 1130 correctly Tweeted at 10:56 a.m. “@jjhorgan‘s brother passed away on Saturday. The premier’s office shared the sad news in a statement to the media.”

But it followed with an 11:10 a.m. Tweet showing a downcast photograph of the Premier under a headline that said “Premier @jjhorgan passes away.”

It was deleted and replaced with a correction, but not before many readers saw the original post and shared it.

The late Pat Horgan (Facebook)

“The digital desk was toggling back and forth between a few different platforms, including Twitter,” news director Treena Wood explained to theBreaker. “A cut-and-paste from our web story’s subject line that said ‘John Horgan’s brother has passed away’ was put into a Tweet, but when we replaced ‘John Horgan’ with @jjhorgan, the word ‘brother’ was also deleted by mistake.”

“News 1130 prides itself on getting it right before getting it first. In this case, we let our audience down and we unreservedly apologize.”

The statement from the Office of the Premier said Pat Horgan “will be deeply missed by his family and friends.”

His funeral is scheduled for Feb. 10 in Port McNeill. In lieu of flowers, donations are encouraged, in his memory, to the B.C. Cancer Agency.

During the 2017 provincial election, John Horgan, who survived bladder cancer a decade ago, took time-off from the campaign trail to be with Pat, who helped raise him after their father died when John was 18 months old. They were most-recently photographed together during the Christmas holidays, enjoying desserts.

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Bob Mackin  [caption id="attachment_5388" align="alignright" width="553"] (News 1130)[/caption] The

Bob Mackin

Vancouver’s October 20 civic election can’t come soon enough. 

Vancouverites will choose a successor to Gregor Robertson, who revealed Jan. 10 that he will not seek a fourth term as mayor, disappointing many who wanted to see him defeated. 

Robertson and the Mayor of Shanghai, Ying Yong (PRC)

If it’s any consolation, Robertson will not see his 10th anniversary in office. The new mayor will be sworn-in before mid-November, several weeks short of the anniversary of Robertson’s Dec. 8, 2008 swearing-in.

Robertson had been showing signs of disinterest in the job for years, as he trotted the globe to elite conferences to sell his brand on the taxpayer dime or that of various nebulous foundations and lobby groups. When he wasn’t doing that, he was in a fling with singer Wanting Qu, the daughter of a corrupt municipal official in China. That ended last spring.

He even made a secret trip to meet government officials in Beijing and Shanghai in September that his staff only acknowledged the day before his return. 

He claimed in his “bittersweet” announcement that he had consulted unnamed family members and friends over the Christmas holidays. Could one of those friends have been longtime Stratcom pollster Bob Penner?

Surely Penner’s polling data would show that the electorate is in a throw-the-bum-out mood because of Robertson’s failure in the categories of housing affordability and inequality. The empty homes tax and a trial balloon to limit foreign buying of condos came too little, too late for fatigued Vancouverites overwhelmed by the buying power of 10-year visa holders from China.

Those issues helped the NDP defeat the BC Liberals in the Lower Mainland last spring. Robertson, like the rest of us, witnessed the slow motion train wreck that was the end of Christy Clark’s premiership. He had only two choices: go down like Clark or out on his own. 

He will ride one of the bike lanes he imposed on you, into the sunset.

His talking points claimed he made the city more “livable, green, prosperous and innovative.” But the one word that applies to Robertson’s legacy is higher

Higher Homelessness

Page three of Vision’s 2008 platform stated that “we will end street homelessness by 2015.” 

That year, Vancouver had an estimated 1,576 homeless. 

In 2017, it was 2,138. 

Robertson and Gillespie, May 23, 2015

Higher Taxes

Affordability was a buzzword of the 2008 Vision platform. Frugality was not a party hallmark. 

A funny thing happened on the way to the city’s 2018 budget vote last Dec. 12. Staff recommended a 3.9% property tax hike. Instead of rubber-stamping that, Vision Coun. Raymond Louie got up and proposed a further 0.34% hike, without a chance for the public to weigh-in. The rest of the Robertson-led Vision caucus lined-up behind Louie. NPA Coun. George Affleck wondered why Vision couldn’t cut back spending.  

Higher Towers

The most-obvious legacy of Robertson’s mayoralty is on the Vancouver skyline, which earned him the nickname “Highrise Robertson.” Developers that poured money into Vision Vancouver’s pockets at glitzy cash-for-access events got council approval to build higher. Particularly Westbank’s Ian Gillespie. His Telus Garden was a Robertson campaign stop in 2014. His Vancouver House is under construction near the Granville Bridge. Federal tax officials are looking at Gillespie’s luxury projects, which were sold primarily ot offshore buyers. Robertson and Gillespie had a myserious meeting on a Saturday afternoon in May 2015 at Gillespie’s Shaw Tower headquarters, as reported by theBreaker. Neither explained what it was about.

Higher Secrecy 

Too many politicians promise transparency and don’t deliver. But Robertson convinced Vancouver voters he was different. 

“When the city uses your money, you have a right to know where it’s being spent, and what it’s being used for. When leaders fall short of that standard, public confidence is shaken,” Robertson said in his Dec. 8, 2008 swearing-in speech. “Politicians do not always live up to that responsibility, I know. But I also know that there were literally thousands of people voting last November for the very first time. My commitment to them, on behalf of every member of my team, is that I will not let you down on making City Hall more open and accountable.”

Robertson burned bridges with Vision supporters and media alike, turning Vancouver city hall into one of the most-secretive governments in Canada. His original chief of staff, Mike Magee, was caught purging email and Robertson resorted to GMail, years after B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner said that was not allowed. 

Commissioner Elizabeth Denham audited city hall, and found Vision caused “inappropriate delays, failure to meet legislated timelines, missing documentation, incomplete responses, and adversarial communication with applicants.”

“Of particular concern to me is evidence that the City is treating media applicants differently than other applicants. The principle in FOI requests is that all applicants be treated equally, and should not be distinguished by their employment status. It is in the public interest to protect the ability of media applicants to identify issues, obtain records and disseminate information in a timely manner.”

Higher… literally

By summer 2015, there were 60 marijuana stores operating illegally in the city. They outnumbered Tim Hortons coffee shops. Robertson, the police board chair, used his clout to foster the budding industry. His party also began to award some of those stores with business licences, rather than protect citizens from the risk of organized criminals selling specious products under the guise of “medicine” or wait until the federal government gets its house in order. 

Bob Mackin Vancouver’s October 20 civic election can’t

Bob Mackin

The executive director in charge of troubled Nanaimo Regional General Hospital is gone and Vancouver Island Health Authority won’t tell theBreaker why. 

A source says Suzanne Fox was escorted from NRGH on Jan. 8 — exactly two months after theBreaker was first to report on a damning report about the hospital’s toxic culture by a U.S. consultant. 

Ex-Island Health executive Suzanne Fox (VIHA)

VIHA spokeswoman Meribeth Burton told theBreaker by email that: “The executive director for Geography 2 has left Island Health. The recruitment process will begin shortly to fill the position on a permanent basis. We cannot comment further on personnel matters.”

Geography 2 is what VIHA calls the division that includes Oceanside/Nanaimo, Port Alberni/West Coast, NRGH clinical operations and Island-wide renal and trauma services. Fox’s bio says she is a critical care registered nurse who completed a masters in science of nursing at the University of British Columbia. She was in VIHA management since 2008. Fox, who was paid $160,096 last fiscal year, was also executive director of the $174 million iHealth project, which was supposed to have been completed last year, but has been delayed to 2020. Doctors have complained it is error-prone.  

Last Nov. 8, theBreaker was first to report that Denver-based Vector Group’s survey of staff and executives found NRGH rife with bullying, coercion, harassment, intimidation, lack of trust, nepotism and favouritism. The story on the Nanaimo hospital crisis was the third-most read on theBreaker in 2017. 

The survey said the hospital’s toxic culture was past the tipping point. Vector’s report said hospital staff it contacted said they refuse to recommend NRGH to relatives who are finishing their medical training. 

“Numerous people in several parts of the hospital volunteered that they’ve instructed their friends/families to take them elsewhere (the mainland) for care if they get sick,” the report said. 

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Bob Mackin The executive director in charge of

Bob Mackin

Less than a week before Christmas, TransLink was fined more than $607,000 because a worker was seriously injured in an electrical explosion at a SkyTrain station last spring, theBreaker has learned.

theBreaker has also learned that SkyTrain’s director of health, safety, training and environment was terminated on Jan. 8. 

WorkSafeBC found B.C. Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC), the division that operates SkyTrain, broke two Occupational Health and Safety regulations, regarding de-energization and lockout, and the section of the Workers Compensation Act that requires employers to train, instruct and supervise workers to ensure their safety. 

Nanaimo SkyTrain Station (Google)

During passenger operating hours around 11:30 a.m. on May 26, 2017, an electrician was pulling a circuit into the main panel at Nanaimo Station when a mishap occurred and an arc flash was created. A source told theBreaker it was extinguished by BC Hydro fuses blowing. The worker suffered burns, but has fully recovered. 

WorkSafeBC’s Dec. 19, 2017 administrative penalty order for $607,497.56 said BCRTC failed to take sufficient precautions for the prevention of work-related injuries; has not complied with sections of the Act and Regulation; has not maintained a safe workplace or safe working conditions; and did not exercise due diligence to prevent the incident.

The fine was, unofficially, the fourth-biggest levied by WorkSafeBC in 2017. 

theBreaker sought comment from SkyTrain general manager Vivienne King. In an emailed statement, TransLink told theBreaker that it has filed a request for a review of the fine. 

The SkyTrain division, according to the prepared statement, “immediately reviewed and adjusted relevant practices and procedures, and ensured staff were made aware of the changes.”

The statement said power technicians were briefed about the incident and the changes to policies and procedures. They were also provided a reminder of hazards control hierarchy, step back and hazard awareness.

‘[We] are continuing to assess safety procedures department-wide, as well as enhancing our written and documentation procedures,” the statement said. “BCRTC is committed to continuing to work with WorkSafeBC to make sure a high standard of safety is achieved for all staff.”

It was not the first incident involving an electrician working on a system critical panel during passenger operating hours. 

During midday July 21, 2014, the Expo and Millennium lines suffered a massive outage for five hours after an unsupervised electrician used a non-insulated screwdriver on a panel. 

“Although standard operating procedures did not restrict this from occurring during operating hours, they also did not state that it could occur during operating hours,” said a report on the two July 2014 service outages.

Natalia Skapski, the director of health, safety, training and environment, was replaced Jan. 8 on an interim basis by Eva Kaczmarczyk, who was manager of safety, environment and emergency management.

Neither King nor TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond responded to theBreaker’s email. The media relations department would not answer questions about the reason for the shakeup or the severance amount for Skapski. 

“As this is an internal personnel matter, we are unable to provide any comment at this time,” said an emailed statement from TransLink.

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Bob Mackin Less than a week before Christmas,