Incoming Portland Hotel Society board members have strong ties to Vancouver Coastal Health

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      An incoming board of directors set to take the reins of the embattled Portland Hotel Society is heavy on ties to Vancouver Coastal Health.

      On a list of eight names expected to take over PHS are Patty Daly, VCH chief medical health officer, Sandra Heath, a VCH board member, and Ida Goodreau, former VCH CEO.

      Today (March 19) PHS announced that members of its current board of directors were resigning following an ultimatum from the provincial government related to alleged misspending. PHS executive director Mark Townsend has defended the organization’s conduct.

      The board resignations come a little more than a year after PHS was involved in a public dispute with VCH over funding for a women’s program at the Rainier Hotel. While taking millions in government contracts, PHS has repeatedly attracted the ire of the provincial government for advocacy work related to housing and health issues that its members have engaged in.

      In addition to Daly, Heath, and Goodreau, the list of incoming board members obtained by the Straight includes Craig Crawford, vice president of operations at B.C. Housing, and Faye Wightman, former head of the Vancouver Foundation.

      The names of Robert Broderick, James Eugene O'Dea, and Glenn McCurdy also appear on the list.

      PHS is best-known for operating Insite, North America's first and only legal supervised injection facility. The non-profit has led the way on a number of harm reduction initiatives in Vancouver, including methadone programs and needle distribution services.

      Members of PHS’s management team including Townsend, Liz Evans, Dan Small, and Kerstin Stuerzbecher have also said that they are resigning, and will sever official ties with PHS before the end of the month.

      A new PHS board will officially be appointed at the next annual general meeting.

      In an interview conducted before the names of incoming board members were known to the Straight, Townsend said that his priority as outgoing executive director would be to facilitate a smooth transition for the new team.

      “Hopefully, for the people on the ground that really matter, nothing will change."

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      Mar 19, 2014 at 5:47pm

      aaand it's gone. The PHS as you know it is dead and BC Liberal party cronies and CEOs have been parachuted in. They will start moving services out of the area, or purposely run them into the ground to make way for developer cash.


      Mar 19, 2014 at 10:13pm

      While I appreciate (and don't disagree with) the reasons behind your cynical post, I don't agree that services will be moved out of the area completely, or run into the ground. If anything, this will become a little pet project for the Liberals. Metro Vancouver/municipal government has been left to try and manage the fallout of shitty prov/fed policies. They've done their best. Never underestimate what the provincial government WILL salvage, especially if it makes them look good.

      Watch this space. Housing/services for the poor may improve. Especially if the government needs to push through...oh, pipelines to the coast, for example.

      @Head Shakin

      Mar 20, 2014 at 9:18am

      That has to be one of the most annoying videos ever made.


      Mar 20, 2014 at 9:41am


      Why even try to work with the new board? Why even attempt to hold them to their promises that services will continue, albeit without the founders shelling out for $700/night hotel rooms and renting their basement as a meeting space? After all, it is so much easier to find EEEEEEVILLLL and CAPITALISSSSSSMMMM.

      Actually, good riddance. The easily discouraged have no place in the social work field.


      Mar 20, 2014 at 11:31am

      Read the report folks before you defend the greed of the PHS board.


      Mar 20, 2014 at 4:32pm

      No need to look for a government conspiracy here. Pretty obvious that despite the good work of the PHS, their executives were caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They should be gone. I hate the Liberal party but it's pretty hard to pin this on anyone other than Mr. Townsend and Ms. Evans.


      Mar 20, 2014 at 9:40pm

      I actually live in a place the PHS used to offer services (before this new BC Liberal dictatorship took over). Whenever the water went out, they would dump off potable water in bottles for free in the lobby. They also helped a girl here the slumlords tried to throw out on the street, for free.

      This new regime won't do any of this. Yes, I don't like how corrupt the PHS became but I first hand saw not only services to my building, but to many others in the area. Have you ever had your water go out for a week? What would you do. Go get buckets from a starbucks bathroom and bathe in it? Dig a well? Desalinate the ocean? Fact is these guy's made a noticeable difference in the community regardless of them becoming corrupt and the new regime isn't going to do anything except try to shutdown insite and move it out of the city to make room for DTES 2.0 the new developer version.


      Mar 20, 2014 at 9:44pm

      And this is not related to getting PHS noisy activists out of the way so that Vancouver's creative destruction of the DES can proceed unimpeded??? Timing is everything.


      Mar 20, 2014 at 10:29pm

      You've got it John.
      Is it a coincidence that the Mr. Coleman started the attack in the press just before the Local Area Plan was approved by the City? And then boom, the LAP is approved and the province gives PHS leaders an ultimatum. I think it shows their integrity that they would resign rather than jeopardize the housing and other programs.
      "O. My." says the press. After 20 years and managing assets of over $35 million, PHS should offer their leaders a higher yearly income than $150,000! - Gee, you get that after 6 months with Christy Clark!
      And what a savings to have your workspace in your home; what business managing those assets could keep an office running for $1400 a month? That was a good move!
      This sends a loud and clear alarm to all social housing providers - don't advocate for the homeless or marginalized because if we take a dislike to you, we can take over - so just shut up and watch people die on the street.
      PHS is one of the success stories; despite how we might feel about the PHS personally they worked tirelessly at a thankless job.