Recent Posts
Connect with:
Monday / August 15.
  • No products in the cart.
HomeStandard Blog Whole Post (Page 4)

Bob Mackin

A B.C. Court of Appeal tribunal ruled unanimously to overturn a lower court decision to not disqualify Green Party of Vancouver Coun. Michael Wiebe for being among the first restaurateurs to get a new patio licence early in the pandemic.

Coun. Michael Wiebe (Twitter)

Chief Justice Robert Bauman, on behalf of fellow justices Gail Dickson and Gregory Fitch, wrote in the July 13 verdict that B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Steeves erred in determining that only a pecuniary interest unique to Wiebe was sufficient. 

“In my view, good judgment would conclude, as do I, that Councillor Wiebe did not share a pecuniary interest in this matter similar in kind with a significant segment of the public, with the electors generally, as required by [the Vancouver Charter],” Bauman wrote. “Quite simply, the class of persons with whom Councillor Wiebe might be said to share a pecuniary interest is too small a segment of the community to found an application of the exception.” 

The decision means the case should be sent back to the B.C. Supreme Court to decide whether Wiebe is entitled to two other conflict of interest defences: a remoteness exception or a good-faith excuse.

The Court of Appeal ruling does not hinder Wiebe’s current seat on council or his plan to campaign for re-election on Oct. 15. But he is seeking advice from his lawyer on next steps. 

“I’m reviewing quite an interesting verdict that kind of challenges the notion of a lot of elements for the case,” Wiebe said in an interview.

On July 19, 2021, Steeves ruled that Wiebe should not be disqualified from office, even after he lobbied for and voted on a temporary measure to expand patio licences to restaurants, including his Eight 1/2 bistro in Mount Pleasant, in May 2020. Wiebe’s company was among the first 14 licences announced under the program. 

B.C.’s Chief Justice Robert Bauman (AC/YouTube)

Steeves found that Wiebe competes with 3,100 licensees in the city’s restaurant and bar industry, so he survived the petition from 15 citizens, many with connections to the Non-Partisan Association. 

Bauman, however, sided with the petitioners and emphasized that the onus was on Wiebe to bring himself within the “interest-in-common” exception and he did not meet that legal burden because not all licensees were ready to partake in the program. 

“Theirs was an interest that was different in kind from the broader population of licensees,” Bauman wrote. “This was a small group, numbering in the hundreds.”

If the case doesn’t return in front of a judge soon, Wiebe’s fate will rest in the court of public opinion at the ballot box. He remains a Green nominee, though the official registration period for candidates runs Aug. 30-Sept. 9, and continues to enjoy support of the party board and caucus.

“I’m going to continue to do the good work I do because I make the city better off,” Wiebe said in an interview. 

City council does not have a legal assistance program like ones available for provincial or federal lawmakers, so Wiebe has sought $1,200 maximum donations from individual supporters and plans to publish the list of donations, except those under $50.

“I could go ask someone for $50,000, but I believe that accountability and trust is a huge part of democracy and I think that that’s fair,” he said.

Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

Bob Mackin A B.C. Court of Appeal tribunal

Bob Mackin

The proposal to bring the Winter Olympics back to Vancouver in 2030 is in trouble. 

Deputy Vancouver city manager Karen Levitt’s report to city council’s July 20 policy and strategic priorities meeting says the lack of support from the federal and B.C. governments and civic staff fatigue means she cannot recommend whether to continue exploring another Olympics.

Deputy Vancouver city manager Karen Levitt (Vancouver.ca)

The Canadian Olympic Committee and its Four Host First Nations (FHFN) partners were hoping to gain formal city council support this month. But Levitt’s report to one of the last scheduled meetings before the Oct. 15 election raises four major concerns and she urges city council to get answers before deciding whether to back the bid.

“It is staff’s view that in order for council to provide such a negotiating mandate to staff, council would need to have a clear understanding of the proposed funding, operating, indemnification and governance models for the proposed B.C. bid. None of these are currently in place,” wrote Levitt, whose 32-year-career at 12th and Cambie includes serving as director of Olympic Games strategic planning.

The International Olympic Committee plans to name the host when it meets in Mumbai, India in May 2023. Salt Lake City and Sapporo are also pondering bids. Vancouver’s partners in the Host Nations Exploratory Assembly, which includes Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Lil’wat first nations, have not announced whether they formally back the bid. 

“Per agreed process, this was to be the first step in determining whether all parties would collectively advance a B.C. bid,” said Levitt’s report. 

Financial, indemnification and governance models are not yet known and there is no senior government guarantee to underwrite potential Games deficits. Federal sport hosting policy prevents Ottawa from financing major event deficits. For the 2010 Winter Olympics, the B.C. Liberal government acted as the guarantor, but the NDP government has said it is unwilling, so far, to do the same for 2030.

Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith (left) and Four Host First Nations executive director Tewanee Joseph (second from left) at the Dec. 10 bid exploration announcement (Twitter/Tewanee Joseph)

“The absence of a clear senior government commitment to indemnify the event represents a material difference in context for Vancouver, relative to the 2010 Games,” said Levitt’s report. “Given the magnitude of the potential liability, it would not be feasible for the city to sign on as Host City for the 2030 Winter Games without being appropriately indemnified.”

Levitt’s fourth major concern is the insufficient time to evaluate costs, benefits and risks to the city and to negotiate multiparty agreements by the COC’s deadline of December 2022. 

In a June 24 letter to COC president Tricia Smith, Melanie Mark, the NDP’s Minister of Tourism, Art, Culture and Sport, set an Aug. 15 deadline for a mini business plan for the province to decide when it wants to back the bid. The COC had already been planning to make a formal proposal to B.C. and federal treasury boards in October.

One of Mark’s key requirements is to know how each of the municipal and first nations parties involved would share in costs and risks. She also wants to know how an organizing committee would be funded by the IOC and financed privately. So far, the Four Host Nations have only publicly committed to providing space at MST Developments’ Jericho Lands on which to build a new Vancouver Olympic Village. 

Levitt’s report said city staff are “currently facing an unprecedented workload.” They are dealing with pandemic-related staff attraction and retention issues while working with organizers of the 2023 Laver Cup tennis tournament, 2025 Invictus Games and 2026 FIFA World Cup, and juggling large and complex files. Those include the Squamish Nation/Westbank Development Senakw services agreement, Vancouver Plan, Broadway Plan, Broadway Subway extension, plus homelessness, mental health and public safety issues. Another Olympics would require an all hands-on-deck approach, across all major departments at city hall, the Park Board and police and fire departments.

“While a comprehensive cost-benefit/implications analysis of potentially hosting the 2030 Winter Games has not been undertaken by staff, it can be stated that at this point in time, there are substantial concerns about the city’s staff capacity to actually take on a Host City role for the 2030 Winter Games, without significant investments in incremental staff resources.”

The COC estimates another Games would cost at least $4 billion, including $1 billion to $1.2 billion from taxpayers. The estimate did not include essential services, such as those required from municipal governments. 

The COC proposes hosting the 2030 Games at most of the venues that were used for Vancouver 2010, except for curling, big air and medals concerts at Hastings Park and snowboarding and freestyle skiing at Sun Peaks resort near Kamloops.

Coun. Collen Hardwick (left) and Mayor Kennedy Stewart at the April 12 city council meeting (City of Vancouver)

The COC privately discouraged each municipal and first nations bid partner from holding a referendum this year, because it feared that would spoil its chance to enter closed-door negotiations with the IOC under its new procedure for awarding the Games. In April, Coun. Colleen Hardwick unsuccessfully proposed a plebiscite be added to the October election ballot. Mayor Kennedy Stewart was found in breach of the code of conduct for Tweets that wrongly accused Hardwick of violating a non-binding agreement with Whistler and FHFN. 

The total all-in cost of building and staging the 2010 Games was estimated at $8 billion. The biggest operational line item was the RCMP-led security, at almost $1 billion. City taxpayers spent $554.3 million, not including the bailout of the $1.1 billion Olympic Village, which was finally paid-off in 2014. Vancouverites were left with three new or renewed community centres, a new convention centre and the Canada Line, but the true costs are unknown. 

B.C.’s Auditor General did not conduct a post-Games audit and the 2010 organizing committee, known as VANOC, was not governed by the freedom of information law. VANOC transferred its board minutes and financial documents to the Vancouver City Archives under a contract that says they are not to be made public before fall 2025. 

Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

Bob Mackin The proposal to bring the Winter

Bob Mackin

A Vancouver man who was both the perpetrator and victim of sensational gangland shootings in 1996 was ordered to keep the peace for a year after a 2020 physical argument with his girlfriend.

Mani Rezaei (Instagram)

Mani Rezaei was charged with assault with a weapon, assault, uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm and cause fear of injury/damage to person/property after a May 27, 2020 altercation at his residence in Southeast Vancouver. Charges were stayed on July 5 when Senior Judge Elisabeth Burgess in Vancouver Provincial Court opted under the Criminal Code to impose a section 810 recognizance order on Rezaei. 

The 1976-born Rezaei admitted, through his lawyer Joe Bellows, that he used inappropriate force and the complainant has reasonable grounds to fear for her wellbeing or personal safety. 

Burgess heard Rezaei and his girlfriend were involved in a shoving match. The woman fell to the ground and suffered a swollen lip and a mark on the base of her neck.

Burgess heard that Rezaei and the woman had a relationship for three-and-a-half-years that Bellows told the court was deteriorating on both sides before the incident.

Burgess ruled that Rezaei must keep the peace and be on good behaviour for 12 months, not contact the victim directly or indirectly and not possess any weapons. 

“As a result of what started out as a criminal charge, now is being proceeded with in another way that’s much more favourable to you,” Burgess said to Rezaei. 

The court heard Rezaei was convicted in early 1998 of attempted murder, for which he was sentenced to 14 years in jail, and hostage taking with a firearm, for which he received a five-year concurrent sentence. 

In June 1996, Rezaei shot friend Siamak Zahedi in a North Vancouver basement suite. Both were affiliated with the Persian Pride gang. Sentencing judge Wally Oppal noted Rezaei felt remorse and found religion after his arrest. 

In a separate case, Rezaei pleaded guilty to the October 1996 kidnapping of Randy Chan, brother of Lotus gang member Raymond Chan. A month after that incident, Rezaei was shot in Vancouver while sitting in a car. He survived a coma and paralysis. 

Apart from the 2020 incident, Bellows said that “there’s been nothing but positive things” since Rezaei’s release from jail. 

He listed working at a family restaurant with his mother, obtaining a computer systems technician certificate at the Academy of Learning, working at Sport Check and Winners, assisting his mother as a cleaner at a Montessori school and becoming a personal trainer in 2019. 

“He’s had no charges since completing his penitentiary term, so this is a bit of an anomaly,” Bellows told Burgess.

Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

Bob Mackin A Vancouver man who was both

Bob Mackin

The former speaker of the B.C. Legislature, who called in the RCMP to investigate Craig James, is surprised the disgraced former clerk was not sent to jail.

Speaker Darryl Plecas (Mackin)

B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes sentenced James on July 8 to one month of house arrest followed by two months of 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for breach of public trust. James must also pay $1,886.72 restitution for the custom shirts and suit he illegally bought and a $200 victim fine charge. 

“It’s a bit depressing, it’s a bit disquieting,” Plecas said in an interview. “And I can’t believe that the average British Columbian would look at this and say that this really fits the crime. At the same time, I do appreciate that the judge is taking into account all kinds of mitigating factors.”

Holmes found James guilty of fraud and breach of public trust on May 19, but sentenced him on the latter. She decided against jail time because James is a 71-year-old without a prior criminal record who cooperated with the investigation, lost his $347,090-a-year job, suffered anxiety, was the subject of scathing media attention and expressed remorse through his lawyers. He did not testify at the Jan. 24 to March 3 trial. 

Despite that, Plecas worries what message is sent to deter public officials from pilfering the public purse. He also wonders what happens the next time a public official is found guilty of corruption.

“So if you say to somebody, look, you’re going to do this and if you get caught, number one, you’re not likely to go to jail, because here we have the most-senior official didn’t go to jail,” Plecas said. “It’s hard to imagine in future who is going to jail. This case will be used for future cases and courts will be reminded that here’s a case of somebody who didn’t go to jail.” 

Clerk Craig James swore Christy Clark in as Westside-Kelowna MLA in 2013, near Clark’s Vancouver office. (Facebook)

Plecas was the Speaker from 2017 to 2020 and MLA for Abbotsford South from 2013 to 2020. He is also a professor emeritus of criminology and criminal justice at the University of the Fraser Valley and former prison judge at Kent Institution. He acknowledged Canada’s tradition of seeking to rehabilitate offenders and that judges are reluctant to send someone to jail unless they believe the offender poses a high risk to the community.

“It’s always important once somebody receives their punishment, that we all, as a community and as a society, be as helpful as we can to somebody and, at the expiration of their sentence, welcome them back into the community. But that shouldn’t take away from consequences that should be included in the first instance.”

During his month-long house arrest, James is allowed a weekly visit to a grocery store and to attend Sunday mass. He can also leave his Saanich strata lot for medical appointments. Alan Mullen, Plecas’s former chief of staff, said the sentence does not send a strong message of deterrence or denunciation.

“We put a lot of work into this, we were sort of raked over the coals,” Mullen said. “And at the end of the day, no, I don’t think it does. Because, here you have an individual saying, well, thank-you very much, here’s $1,800 back, and I’ll stay home for a month, and I’ll go about my day.”

Could there be cause for civil consequences? 

Holmes acquitted James on a breach of trust charge for receiving a $257,988 long-service bonus in 2012, but she called his role in the misspending a conflict of interest and said he was likely not entitled to the sum. In May 2019, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin, had a similar conclusion when she investigated James’s misconducts. McLachlin’s report to the all-party Legislative Assembly Management Committee (LAMC) triggered James’s sudden retirement, which did not affect his eligibility under the Public Service Pension Plan. He had originally claimed no wrongdoing and demanded his job back after the Nov. 18, 2020 suspension.

Clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd (Association of Former MLAs of B.C./John Yanyshyn)

Plecas said the Legislature could have grounds to seek a civil judgment for repayment of the $257,988 bonus.

“So we have two very, very senior judges who have concluded that, in effect, he shouldn’t have got the money,” Plecas said. “At very least, there should be some exploration of having him pay that back. Just because it wasn’t criminal, doesn’t mean that he should keep it.”

Neither Ryan-Lloyd, recently hired executive financial officer Randall Smith nor Speaker Raj Chouhan responded for comment on July 11. 

By email, Clerk Assistant Artour Sogomonian said: “I cannot speculate on any actions that the Legislative Assembly may or may not wish to take in the future.”

There is also the matter of James’s legal fees.

Sogomonian said no invoices have been received and no payments made. 

The May 2021 indemnification policy provides legal assistance to current or former employees of the Legislative Assembly. A current or former employee loses eligibility for indemnification if a judgment is given against that person in a legal proceeding and must repay all amounts to the Legislative Assembly, unless the clerk determines indemnification is appropriate in whole or in part.

HEAR more from Darryl Plecas and Alan Mullen — CLICK HERE to listen to theBreaker.news Podcast. 

Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

Bob Mackin The former speaker of the B.C.

For the week of July 10, 2022

Craig James, the disgraced ex-Clerk of the B.C. Legislature, was sentenced July 8 to spend one month in house arrest and two months under curfew for breach of public trust. He must also pay $1,886.72 in restitution for the custom shirts and suit he illegally bought for personal use with taxpayers’ money. 

Does the sentence fit the crime? Will it deter other unethical elected or appointed public officials?

Hear answers to those questions from former Speaker Darryl Plecas and his former chief of staff Alan Mullen. They exposed the corruption scandal at the B.C. Legislature, which led to the trial and conviction of James, who was the equivalent of CEO at B.C.’s Parliament Buildings in Victoria. 

Also on this edition: another Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2030 could cost taxpayers at least $1 billion, according to the Canadian Olympic Committee’s July 8-released estimates.

Who came up with the numbers? And will the Four Host First Nations put any of their money on the line? Hear answers to those questions. 

Also, headlines from the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest. 

CLICK BELOW to listen or go to TuneIn or Apple Podcasts.

Now on Google Podcasts!

Have you missed an edition of theBreaker.news Podcast? Go to the archive.

Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

theBreaker.news Podcast
theBreaker.news Podcast
theBreaker.news Podcast: What is the legacy of Craig James's corruption?
/

For the week of July 10, 2022 Craig

Bob Mackin

Vancouver city hall’s integrity commissioner has found Mayor Kennedy Stewart broke the code of conduct when he published a series of misleading Tweets in March against a proposed plebiscite on the Vancouver 2030 Winter Olympics bid.

Coun. Collen Hardwick (left) and Mayor Kennedy Stewart at the April 12 city council meeting (City of Vancouver)

Stewart alleged that Coun. Colleen Hardwick’s motion to add a yes or no question to the Oct. 15 civic election ballot would violate the December 2021-announced bid exploration memorandum of understanding with the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Four Host First Nations.

“I will not second this motion. I urge other councillors to consider what supporting @CllrHardwick’s decision to essentially tear up our MOU says about their own commitments to reconciliation,” Stewart Tweeted on March 24.

Hardwick withdrew the motion from the March 29 council agenda due to lack of support. When she tabled it during the April 12 meeting, no one else on council seconded the motion.  

Integrity commissioner Lisa Southern investigated Hardwick’s March 25 complaint and ruled Stewart was wrong. 

“We recommend the public record should be corrected to reflect that the motion was not a violation of the MOU,” Southern concluded in the July 5 report, which was published July 8. 

Will that happen? Neil Monckton, one of Stewart’s two chiefs of staff, said by email: “As far as the Mayor is concerned, Coun. Hardwick violated the spirit of the MOU.”

Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s Tweets that violated civic policy (Twitter)

Later, Stewart’s spokesman Alvin Singh, sent a prepared statement credited to the Mayor that read: “I thank the Integrity Commissioner for her work, and agree with her findings that a more accurate use of words would have been to say Councillor Hardwick’s motion violated the spirit of the MOU, which it did.”

Hardwick, the TEAM for a Livable Vancouver mayoral candidate against Stewart, said Stewart’s Tweet had serious consequences. 

“His Tweet, his actions derailed or sidelined any opportunity for Vancouver residents to have a say on the Olympic bid,” Hardwick said in an interview. “It didn’t get seconded, it didn’t get to the floor, the people of Vancouver do not have a say, as they have in the past, as a result of his Tweets.”

Southern reviewed the December-released memorandum of understanding “with due consideration of the principles of contractual interpretation.” Stewart’s error, she wrote, was in characterizing the motion as a violation of the MOU, which it was not. 

The MOU clearly states it is not legally binding on any of the parties, which also include the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Lil’wat nations. Southern, however, stopped short in finding Stewart misused the influence of his office.

“As we have noted, the Tweets were not accurate in stating that there was a violation of the MOU. However, as supported by a third-party witness, we find that there were concerns by the Host Nations Exploratory Assembly about the motion, and that Mayor Stewart ‘has every right to form views, to hold views, to express views and, while in office, to give effect to those views’.”

Privately, the Canadian Olympic Committee discouraged all six parties to the MOU against holding a referendum this year, fearing that it would ruin the COC’s chance to open negotiations by year-end under the IOC’s new “targeted dialogue” strategy to award the Games without costly bidding wars. 

Salt Lake City, the 2002 host, and Sapporo, the 1972 host, are also exploring bids. The IOC plans to pick the 2030 location in May 2023.

Vancouver integrity commissioner Lisa Southern (SBP)

A COC report released July 8 estimated another Winter Olympics in B.C. in 2030 would cost as much as $4 billion, including $1.2 billion in taxpayer grants. The report conceded that there were many unknown or hidden costs and risks. City council will decide later this month whether to support a formal bid. The B.C. NDP government wants the COC to provide details on governance, costs and risks by Aug. 15 before it decides whether to support the bid.

The all-in cost to build and operate the Vancouver 2010 Games was as much as $8 billion, but the B.C. Auditor General never conducted a final report. The organizing committee, VANOC, was not covered by the freedom of information law and its records were transferred to the Vancouver Archives after the Games with restrictions not to open the board minutes and financial ledgers before fall 2025.

Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

Bob Mackin Vancouver city hall’s integrity commissioner has

Bob Mackin 

The Canadian Olympic Committee and leaders of the Four Host First Nations said July 8 that they need at least $1 billion from taxpayers to stage another Winter Olympics in B.C. in 2030.

The COC is acting as the bid committee with blessing and input from leaders of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Lil’wat councils. They estimate $299 million to $375 million would be needed in government grants to renovate existing venues left over from Vancouver 2010 and to build new ones, $165 million to $267 million for new Olympic Villages, and $560 million to $583 million to secure the Games.

Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith (left) and Four Host First Nations executive director Tewanee Joseph (second from left) at the Dec. 10 bid exploration announcement (Twitter/Tewanee Joseph)

The report estimated an organizing committee’s $2.5 billion to $2.8 billion budget would be privately funded from broadcast, sponsorship, ticketing, merchandise and other revenue. So the overall bill could be $4 billion.

Vancouver city council is expected to decide after hearing a July 20 staff presentation whether to support an official bid to the International Olympic Committee. The B.C. NDP government has provided no commitment so far and has given COC president Tricia Smith until Aug. 15 to provide a detailed plan, including whether all host communities and First Nations would each share costs and risks.

Salt Lake City, the 2002 host, and Sapporo, the 1972 host, are also exploring bids. The IOC plans to pick the 2030 location in May 2023. 

The RCMP-led police and military operation at Vancouver 2010 cost almost $1 billion, which was substantially more than the original $125 million estimate. Mary Conibear, a former Vancouver 2010 operations manager who is also the COC’s provincial lobbyist, said a lower cost in 2030 would be achieved by relying on intelligence and technology, including surveillance cameras. She said the 2030 Games would be a sporting event with security, rather than a security event with sport — which was also the line often repeated more than 12 years ago by Bud Mercer, the RCMP officer in charge of the 10,000-person Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit. 

Conibear bristled at a reporter’s suggestion that relying on technology would affect Vancouverites’ civil liberties. 

Vancouver 2030 proposed venues map (COC)

“Obviously, Vancouver is not Beijing,” Conibear said. 

Conibear said the cost estimates were produced in tandem with RCMP and engineering consultants. Their names do not appear in the report and she did not provide their names when asked by a reporter. 

“In every case, it’s people with a great pedigree, but we can put that up on the website for sure,” Conibear said. 

By afternoon, the GamesEngagement.ca website showed bios for four security experts: senior RCMP event security veterans Alphonse MacNeil, Brian London and George Reid and Peter Johnston, formerly of the Royal Canadian Navy. No engineering or construction experts were listed with the bid feasibility team.

The Vancouver 2030 bid is positioned as “Indigenous-led,” but would any of the four host first nations be involved in financing the Games or assuming liability for a potential deficit? 

Chris Lewis, the Squamish Nation director of Indigenous initiatives and reconciliation, was the only representative of the four to offer an answer. He indicated that the only commitment is in the form of land on which the Olympic Village would be built in Vancouver on land owned by First Nations-owned MST Developments. 

“This is really about unlocking the economic potential of the host nations,” Lewis said. “As you know, we have 90 acres of land at Jericho that we had to purchase back as Indigenous peoples to start economic development, and now we’re offering our own parcels of land for a little bit of time to build the athletes’ village.”

RCMP veteran Alphonse MacNeil is the Canadian Olympic Committee’s 2030 bid security consultant (LinkedIn)

The report said the estimates include a built-in 25% contingency for increases and uncertainties, including cancellation insurance. 

There is, however, a long list of unknown costs described as essential services that would be required from multiple levels of government for snow removal, traffic control, temporary road closures and waste management to bylaw enforcement and permitting, ambulance and health services to provincial emergency planning, border services, airports and visas. 

The 2030 cost estimate also doesn’t include the possibility of government sponsorships and hospitality venues or related infrastructure. In 2010, the $2 billion Canada Line and $600 million Sea-to-Sky Highway were necessary for the staging of the Games. An extension to the Broadway Subway to UBC, with a station at the Jericho Lands, is proposed. If accelerated to meet a 2030 Games deadline, it would become a multibillion-dollar Olympic cost.  

Most 2010 venues would reprise their roles if the Games return in 2030, except snowboarding and freestyle skiing would go to Sun Peaks near Kamloops, curling at the Agrodome, and a temporary big air skiing and snowboarding ramp at Hastings Racecourse.

Whereas False Creek was the focal point for Vancouver 2010, the Vancouver 2030 hub would be Hastings Park. Nightly medal awards concerts would be held at the PNE Amphitheatre, and the official merchandise superstore, a daytime live site, cultural village and sponsor pavilions would be elsewhere on the site. 

The only new venue with a publicly known cost is the amphitheatre, at almost $70 million.  

The all-in cost to build and operate the Vancouver 2010 Games was as much as $8 billion, but the B.C. Auditor General never conducted a final report. The organizing committee, VANOC, was not covered by the freedom of information law and its records were transferred to the Vancouver Archives after the Games with restrictions not to open the board minutes and financial ledgers before fall 2025.

Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

Bob Mackin  The Canadian Olympic Committee and leaders

Bob Mackin

Disgraced former B.C. Legislature Clerk Craig James was sentenced July 8 to one month of house arrest in his Saanich home and two months of 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes found James guilty May 19 of fraud and breach of public trust. He was sentenced only for breach of public trust, because of rulings against multiple convictions for the same circumstances.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court.

The Crown cited previous breach of trust judgments and wanted a year in jail or a similar combination of house arrest and curfew for James, the equivalent of chief executive at the seat of government from 2011 to 2018. 

James’s lawyers wanted a conditional discharge and community service work.  

In B.C. Supreme Court, Holmes rejected a conditional discharge and jail for James, a 71-year-old with no prior criminal record. 

“I conclude that the conditional sentence order in this case should be shorter than those in the cases on which the Crown relies,” Holmes said. “However, it should be long enough to show even taking account of the harsh publicity Mr. James has endured, that violations of the public’s trust, particularly at the heart of a body supporting one of our key institutions, are treated as very serious indeed.”

Holmes ordered James to repay $1,886.72 for the cost of the custom shirts and suit that he illegally bought for himself with public funds. She also assessed a $200 victim fine surcharge.

Despite the court-imposed conditions, James is allowed to leave his house for urgent medical care or a medical appointment for himself, his wife and daughter, to attend weekly mass and for a maximum two-hour grocery shopping trip per week. 

Holmes said James had the highest level of responsibility, apart from the speaker, “within a public institution, on which society fundamentally depends.” He received a generous $347,090-a-year salary and benefits. James also received a $258,000 long-service bonus in 2012; Holmes ruled in May that the bonus was not criminal, but James was likely not entitled to the sum and his involvement in obtaining it was a conflict of interest.

Craig James (left) and Gary Lenz (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association)

Holmes said James’s attitude showed a disrespect for his duties to lead and protect the Legislative Assembly. He deliberately made false statements in three separate expense claims at different times in 2018. 

“Mr. James was specifically responsible for among other things, the management of [the Legislative Assembly of B.C.] public funds are very funds from which he drew for his own personal purposes in committing the offence. Mr. James’s motivation for the offence can only have been personal gain,” she said.

Holmes said there were many mitigating circumstances, including the relatively low dollar value of the offence, James’s age and loss of job, his lack of criminal record, prior good reputation, mental suffering and scathing media attention after he was suspended. She also mentioned James’s plans for the future, including supporting his daughter and hopes to resume traveling with his wife. 

“However, in my view, public criticism and blame through the media cannot entirely displace the court’s own role in denouncing conduct and in deterring others through the sentence it imposes,” Holmes said. 

James stood trial on three charges of breach of trust by a public official and two charges of fraud over $5,000 from Jan. 24 to March 3 in Vancouver. He did not testify in his defence. Holmes acquitted James for the purchase of a $13,000 woodsplitter and trailer that he kept at his Saanich home and for receiving the $258,000 payment. 

The native of Moose Jaw, Sask., came to B.C. in 1987 after working nine years at the Saskatchewan Parliament. The BC Liberal caucus under then-Premier Christy Clark named him clerk in June 2011 rather than allow an all-party committee to decide the appointment. 

James was suddenly suspended along with Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz, on Nov. 18, 2020. Then-Speaker Darryl Plecas and chief of staff Alan Mullen had called in the RCMP to investigate corruption.

The top two permanent officers of the Legislature both claimed they did no wrong and demanded their jobs back, but retired in disgrace in 2019 without reimbursing taxpayers. 

In May of that year, James was found to have committed four types of misconduct. Lenz quit five months later to avoid discipline under the Police Act for breaching his oath. Only James was charged under the Criminal Code in late 2020.

Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

Bob Mackin Disgraced former B.C. Legislature Clerk Craig

Bob Mackin

The highest-paid employee in City of New Westminster in 2021 didn’t work the final two months of the year. 

Tim Armstrong suddenly retired in October 2021 as the New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services chief with less than a week’s notice. The Royal City’s statement of financial information for 2021 shows he received $324,081 and charged $4,725 in expenses.

Tim Armstrong (Justice Institute)

Armstrong’s pay was $129,729 higher than in 2020, when New Westminster paid Armstrong $194,802. He also billed taxpayers $3,827 in expenses that year. 

The official story, as New Westminster city hall tells it, is that the 12-year department head notified city manager Lisa Spitale on Oct. 22, 2021 that he would retire on Oct. 28. There was no public announcement, only carefully worded internal memos distributed by Spitale and Armstrong. 

City hall’s freedom of information office is refusing to disclose all email between Spitale and Armstrong for the last month-and-a-half of his employment, and it has also refused to show Armstrong’s payroll data. That has prompted a reporter’s appeal to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. 

The statement of financial information also includes a special note signed by Eva Yip, the acting director of human resources and IT, stating: “There was one severance agreement made between the Corporation of the City of New Westminster and a non-unionized employee during the 2021 fiscal year representing a total of 13 months of compensation.”

Neither Spitale nor Mayor Jonathan Cote responded for comment, but city hall did not deny that the note relates to Armstrong’s severance. 

“The city considers details of severance and retirement packages personal and privileged information and we do not discuss personnel issues publicly,” said Blair Fryer, New Westminster’s economic development and communications manager, in a prepared statement. 

Spitale was the second-highest paid employee, with $285,590 remuneration and $621 in expenses, for a total $286,850. Director of parks and recreation Dean Gibson ($210,742) and human resources director Richard Fong ($210,202) were the next-highest. 

Armstrong departed just three days before one of the busiest nights of the year, Hallowe’en. His parting memo generally thanked staff and said it was “time for a change” after 40 years in the fire service and public safety. There was no explanation for the short, six-day gap between his notice and retirement. 

Interim fire chief Curtis Bremner was introduced at a Nov. 1, 2021 council budget workshop without fanfare and without mention of his predecessor. Bremner later retired and Erin Williams became the new acting chief. Bremner was paid $187,603 in 2021, and Williams $167,320.

City hall is spending $50,000 on a consulting contract through the end of the year with former Port Moody fire chief Ron Coulson to review the New Westminster department’s organizational structure, mentor managers and promote engagement between management and union members. 

In early 2020, the Justice Institute of B.C. awarded Armstrong an honorary doctor of laws degree. Armstrong joined Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services at age 21 and rose the ranks over 28 years to become Deputy Chief. He became New Westminster’s fire chief in 2009 and also served as the Royal City’s director of emergency management. His also trained firefighters in the U.S. and Taiwan. 

Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

 

Bob Mackin The highest-paid employee in City of

Bob Mackin

The B.C. NDP government has set an Aug. 15 deadline for the Canadian Olympic Committee to make its case for provincial government support for another Vancouver Winter Olympics.

The COC is acting as the Vancouver 2030 bid committee, with the blessing and input of the Four Host First Nations and the mayors of Vancouver and Whistler.

Nathan Cullen (right) with John Horgan and Melanie Mark in 2017 (BC NDP)

Salt Lake City, the 2002 host, and Sapporo, the 1972 host, are also exploring bids. The International Olympic Committee plans to pick the 2030 location in May 2023. 

The provincial government had previously told the bid exploration team that it would not underwrite the 2030 Games. Melanie Mark, the Minister of Tourism, Art, Culture and Sport, wrote a June 24 letter to COC president Tricia Smith, seeking what amounts to a preliminary business plan. 

The COC had been planning to make a formal proposal to B.C. and federal treasury boards this fall. It wants to confirm government support by November, to be ready when the IOC is expected to open negotiations with bidders in December. 

“Consideration of hosting major international sporting events requires significant time and resources by all parties,” said Mark’s letter, which was provided by a source. “The experience in preparing for the 2010 Games, the magnitude of an Olympic and Paralympic Games is very large and complex, and requires careful consideration by all levels of government and host First Nations. As you will appreciate our environment has changed since 2010, particularly in relation to the risks and challenges created by pandemics, evolving domestic and international security threats, and the effect of global climate change.” 

Mark wants a “clearer understanding” of how the bid and potential organizing committee would be funded and governed. Specifically, she wants to know whether host communities and first nations would share costs, risks, benefits and legacies. Mark also wants to know whether the organizing committee would be self-sustaining with private funding and to what extent the IOC would fund its activities and assume the liability for risks. 

While Mark wants a plan to minimize the burden on taxpayers, she also wants to know how B.C. could benefit from IOC-sanctioned pre-Games events.

Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith (left) and Four Host First Nations executive director Tewanee Joseph (second from left) at the Dec. 10 bid exploration announcement (Twitter/Tewanee Joseph)

“As the province focuses on economic recovery from the global pandemic, we consider support for such events within the context of benefits to communities and the province’s priorities and financial and operational capacity,” said Mark’s letter.

Mark referenced the recent awarding of the 2025 Invictus Games to Vancouver and Whistler and the naming of Vancouver as one of 16 cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The latter is expected to cost taxpayers up to $260 million. 

The timing of Mark’s letter is notable. June 24 was two days after Premier John Horgan stopped the unpopular $789 million, 2030-scheduled rebuild of the Royal B.C. Museum and four days before Horgan announced he would resign as premier when the NDP chooses a new leader this fall. 

It is the latest curveball for the bid, which is facing economic and geopolitical headwinds and the uncertainty of this fall’s municipal elections. The COC had already told partner municipalities and First Nations to refrain from holding a referendum this year. In April, Vancouver Coun. Colleen Hardwick, the TEAM for a Livable Vancouver mayoral candidate, had unsuccessfully proposed a bid plebiscite for the Oct. 15 civic election ballot. Nobody on council agreed to second her motion. 

The Vancouver and Whistler councils are expected to decide this month whether to carry on with the bid. 

The COC released its 26-page feasibility study on June 14 in conjunction with the Four Host First Nations, but it did not include a cost estimate for the proposed Feb. 8-24, 2030 Olympics and March 8-17, 2030 Paralympics. COC lobbyist Mary Conibear called the cost estimate a “complex calculation” and said it would be released in mid-July. 

The lobbyist registry shows Conibear communicated May 16 with Assistant Deputy Finance Minister Doug Foster and Assistant Deputy Tourism Minister Kim Lacharite. The COC is asking the government for provincial staff resources to build the bid book.

Snowboarding at Sun Peaks near Kamloops (Sun Peaks Resort)

“Should a Games Concept evolve into a successful bid, it could impact a host of government policies, including Indigenous relations, the environment, housing, economic development and others,” said Conibear’s entry in the registry.

Most 2010 venues would reprise their roles if the Games return in 2030, except snowboarding and freestyle skiing would go to Sun Peaks near Kamloops, curling at the Agrodome, and a temporary big air skiing and snowboarding ramp at Hastings Racecourse. MST Developments’ Jericho Lands or Heather Lands are proposed for a new Vancouver Olympic Village. 

Whereas False Creek was the focal point for Vancouver 2010, the Vancouver 2030 hub would be Hastings Park. Nightly medal awards concerts would be held at the PNE Amphitheatre, and the official merchandise superstore, a daytime live site, cultural village and sponsor pavilions would be elsewhere on the site. The only new venue with a publicly known cost is the amphitheatre, at almost $70 million.  

In early May, the IOC sent managers Mattias Kaestner and Pierre Dorsaz, along with consultant Stefan Klos, to inspect proposed venues. 

The all-in cost to build and operate the Vancouver 2010 Games was as much as $8 billion, but the B.C. Auditor General never conducted a final report. The organizing committee, VANOC, was not covered by the freedom of information law and its records were transferred to the Vancouver Archives after the Games with restrictions not to open the board minutes and financial ledgers before fall 2025. 

Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

Bob Mackin The B.C. NDP government has set