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Portland Hotel Society audit reveals limos, cruises, luxury hotels

03/20/2014 02:33 EDT | Updated 05/20/2014 05:59 EDT
The B.C. government has released details of a damning audit of the Portland Hotel Society that led to the resignation of the two executive directors and other senior managers, as well as the board of directors, earlier this week.

Among the "questionable expenses" identified by the report are:

- $678.23 for a limousine trip for 11 individuals from Fairmont Pacific Rim to Grouse Mountain and then to a PHS director’s house.

- $8,657.96  in limousine charges by an executive director in 2013.

- $8,323.22 on travel to the U.K. to look into heroin prescription programs and for other business purposes, including a hotel room costing £478 ($887) per night and a £35 ($65) charge for flowers.

- $5,850.20 on travel to Austria to teach harm reduction practices including one night in a luxury king-size room at $549 per night.

- $3,175.12 on travel to Bristol for business purposes, including one £288 ($535)-per-night room and one £420 ($780)-per-night room, and charges relating to alcohol and spa services and £25 ($46) on flowers.

- $1,636.51 at a restaurant for a staff appreciation event.

- $2,694.95 for the Disney Resort Grand Anaheim for two adults and two children, including a room upgraded to accommodate a director in poor health.

- $5,950 on Transat Holidays. No receipt or documentation was provided for this transaction.

- $8,900 was spent on a minibus and driver in the United Kingdom.

- $917.83 for a staff baby shower.

- $1,807.68 for a staff Christmas dinner.

- $7,024.72 for a celebration of life for a deceased employee.

- $1,600 in monthly expenses charged to PHS by the executive directors for use of office space within the residence they share. In addition, improvement expenses such as cabinets were also charged to PHS.

- $5,832 reimbursed for the purchase of a Danube Cruise made on what appears to be a personal credit card of a PHS director.

Directors and board resigned

The society's co-executive director Mark Townsend said earlier this week none of the expenses in question were paid for with government or program money.

On Tuesday, Townsend said senior managers and the board of directors were resigning because of an ultimatum from the provincial government. Townsend said the managers were given the choice of resigning or having the society's contracts with the province cut.

He confirmed that fellow executive director Liz Evans and other board members decided to step down by the end of the month to avoid any service disruption, and that they would relinquish control of PHS to a new board selected by the provincial government.

The Portland Hotel Society runs Insite, which is Canada's only stand-alone supervised injection site for drug users, and a number of social housing and support facilities in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

The resignations come after the B.C. government hired an outside auditing firm to examine the organization's bookkeeping and spending habits last fall.

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