Former chief housing officer gets $261,170 severance

Seventeen City of Vancouver employees, including managers and directors, received severances worth more than $1 million in 2016

The city’s former chief housing officer Mukhtar Latif will receive a severance of $261,170 this year after being fired in January by city manager Sadhu Johnston.

The severance paid to Latif, who was also the CEO of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency, is the equivalent of his base salary, according to Tobin Postma, a city communications manager. Latif’s payout came after less than four years on the job.

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When Latif was fired, Mayor Gregor Robertson told the Courier it was Johnston’s belief the city needed to be more aggressive in its efforts to deliver affordable housing.

“The city manager’s assessment was we need to take it to a much higher level,” Robertson said in February. “That’s a decision that he made to make some changes with the staff, and I think it’s a good call.”

Details of Latif’s severance were provided to the Courier upon request. It’s unclear how many other employees were fired in the first four months of this year, or whether they are entitled to severance packages.

The city paid out $1,014,211 in severance packages to 17 employees in 2016, with almost half of it going to former chief information officer Mark McDonald and former acting general manager of community services Teresa Hartman.

The city’s statement of financial information for 2016, which went before city council last month, indicated 17 employees were given a severance, but no further details were provided in the document. The city supplied the Courier with names of the 17 employees and total payouts.

McDonald, who is now vice-president of information technology and information services for Toronto Community Housing, received $203,363. Hartman, who lists herself on her Linkedin profile as self-employed, collected $274,394.

The city would not say why the two former employees were no longer employed at city hall. The Courier left a message for McDonald that was not returned before deadline. Hartman could not be reached before deadline.

Previously, the city has cited several reasons to the Courier for paying out severances, including restructuring and performance issues. Postma told the Courier in an email that “by law, the city is obligated to provide notice or severance in lieu of notice to individuals whose employment relationship has ended, except where there is egregious conduct that would constitute cause for dismissal.”

Details provided to the Courier shows some former employees received payments in 2016 and will receive more this year. In Richard Newirth’s case, he received $25,328 and will receive another $174,672 over this year and next. Newirth was the city’s managing director of cultural services.

Patricia Berry, who worked in organization development strategic initiatives, received $81,718 last year and will collect $54,092 this year. Shayna Rector Bleeker, who was associate director of communications, is listed as receiving zero dollars in 2016 but will collect $22,431 this year.

Other employees who received severance pay in 2016 included:

  • Jonathan Snoek, acting deputy general manager of the park board, $39,358
  • Nicole Lalonde, manager of administrative services, $135,161
  • Steve Simmonds, animal services manager, $57,354
  • Irene Raziere, human resources, digital strategy and information technology, $13,554
  • Michael McCafferty, security manager, $40,733
  • Valiant Wai Leung Cheung, human resources, digital strategy and information technology, $14,689
  • Gayle Gardner, human resources consultant, $36,666
  • Joyce Fordyce, associate director of Vancouver Civic Theatres, $20,008
  • Darren Horvath, health and safety superintendent, $15,018
  • Catherine Green, real estate and facilities management, $7,796
  • Michael Ireland, engineering services, $8,865 ($11,530 in 2017)
  • David Jones, real estate and facilities management, $40,203

Every year, the city releases a statement of financial information that discloses a variety of financial data, including where the city spent its money and the names of employees who earned more than $75,000 in the previous year.

The number of employees who earned more than $75,000 translated to a total payout of $237,470,053. Those who earned less than $75,000 cost the city $221,738,354. The list does not include police officers, although the Vancouver Police Department does historically release the earnings of the chief and deputy chiefs; that information was not available at deadline.

In 2016, the city’s highest earner listed in the documents was city manager Johnston, who collected $328,583. Some of the city’s other big earners were director of legal services Francie Connell ($288,924), park board general manager Malcolm Bromley ($282,996), chief financial officer Patrice Impey ($288,011), general manager of real estate and facilities management Bill Aujla ($270,895), deputy city manager Paul Mochrie ($251,408) and Fire Chief John McKearney ($222,789).

Mayor Gregor Robertson collected $166,628 in 2016. All city councillors, except for Andrea Reimer $97,543) earned an average of $103,000 last year. Coun. Heather Deal earned the most ($135,780) for her duties as deputy mayor.

Park board commissioners earned an average of $24,000. Vancouver Police Board members’ earnings ranged between $3,495 (Barj Dhahan) and $5,573 (Sherri Magee). Board members were paid on a per diem amount of $264 per meeting ($527, if a meeting last more than four hours) from January to September 2016. Those rates were boosted for the remainder of the year to $273 and $548, respectively. Board members who attend meetings by conference call earn $150.

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings

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