Peter Fassbender now has responsibility for TransLink as Minister for Community

Fassbender urges pause on TransLink CEO hiring

New minister suggests talks to reform governance, executive pay before recruiting new transit system boss

Communities Minister Peter Fassbender is urging TransLink to pause its search for a new permanent CEO while mayors, the board and the province consider possible governance reforms.

The suggestion from Fassbender, the newly appointed minister responsible for TransLink, may ease concerns from Metro Vancouver mayors about the pay and bonus provisions for the next CEO after an online posting by TransLink offered the same compensation package as the old CEO.

RELATED:Pay offer for next TransLink CEO under fire

“It’s not just about the compensation issue,” Fassbender said.

“Any  person worth their salt is going to want to know clearly what their terms of reference are, what are their responsibilities and whose responsible to whom.”

He said he wants mayors, the board and the province to meet as soon as possible about possible changes and “have that hard discussion before any suggestion is made about a new CEO.”

Fassbender also said he intends to quickly appoint two directors to the TransLink board to represent the province, joining the two mayors who sit on the board as had been anticipated in the previous governance changes.

“We need to change either the reality or the perception that the public has” that TransLink is inefficient and ineffective, he said.

The defeat of this year’s plebiscite on a 0.5 per cent sales tax hike for TransLink has spawned some accusations that the outcome puts mayors in exactly the box the premier wants – able only to raise TransLink property taxes but not tap any other new revenue source.

“The mayors will only be in a box if they put themselves there,” Fassbender responded, adding he wants to explore all potential options, both short- and long-term, to increase transit funding.

Fassbender said road pricing – which mayors want to study – deserves a “serious and concerted look” to determine how and when it might work.

“I think it has potential here but it’s not going to happen overnight,” he said. “In the meantime, how do we continue to build a system that needs expansion and provides more buses and more services for underserviced regions?”

A delay in the hiring of a new CEO would also allow more time for mayors and the board to come to agreement on new lower limits for executive compensation – mayors feared a new CEO would be hired at the old rates otherwise.

“It makes absolute sense,” said Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew, who also welcomed Fassbender’s comments as a clear indication the province recognizes the need to reassess governance.

“The governance model that the province has provided is nothing short of a gong show,” Drew said.

As for how much a new CEO should be paid, Drew suggested it be in the $250,000 to $300,000 range, but without any added bonuses.

That would be approximately what many provincial government deputy ministers are paid to run complex ministries, but not as much as a number of other public sector executives.

Metro Vancouver’s chief administrative officer gets total pay and benefits of $340,842, Surrey’s city manager collects $302,000 and Vancouver’s gets $335,000.

Fraser Health’s CEO is paid a base salary of $345,000, while SFU’s president collects $395,000.

And Crown corporations that pay their CEOs still more include WorkSafeBC ($553,000), BC Ferries ($461,000) and BC Hydro ($422,000).

Former TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis, who was replaced in February but continues at the same pay as a consultant until his contract runs out, receives a base salary of $319,244. Bonuses, pension and other benefits took his total compensation to $440,000 last year.

The July 23 posting to WorkBC on behalf of TransLink listed the same base pay for the new CEO, plus bonus of up to 30 per cent, a $14,400 car allowance, $2,500 wellness allowance and $1,200 parking allowance.

“I can pretty much assure you that the mayors wouldn’t approve what was put out there,” Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore said.

He said most mayors think the Jarvis package must be trimmed while remaining attractive enough against competing offers from other public sector agencies to recruit a strong leader who can turn TransLink around.

Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation said the next CEO should not earn more than a typical B.C. deputy minister, adding that should be the cap for any public service or local government executive.

A 2014 amendment to TransLink’s legislation says the executive compensation range to be drawn up must not exceed that of similar B.C. public sector employers or similar organizations elsewhere in Canada.

The board was to have submitted the compensation plan to the mayors council for approval within four months of that amendment taking effect, but it’s way overdue.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BIA floats idea of drive-through Santa Parade

If event goes ahead, ‘parade’ of cars would stream through fairgrounds

Fraser Health relocates Surrey COVID-19 testing centre

New location will triple testing capacity: Dr. Victoria Lee

Mother-daughter charged in 2017 torched-SUV killing in South Surrey now allowed contact

Judge grants Manjit Kaur Deo permission to connect with Inderdeep Kaur Deo through a lawyer

COVID-19 exposures reported at four more Surrey schools

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

PHOTOS: One injured in shooting on South Surrey-Langley border

Shots reported near 194 Street and 34 Avenue, burned-out vehicle found in 18100-block of 12 Avenue

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Man sentenced to 7 years for gas-and-dash death of Alberta gas station owner

Ki Yun Jo was killed after Mitchell Sydlowski sped off in a stolen cube van without paying for $198 of fuel

Machine pistol among 14 firearms seized from Alaska man at B.C. border crossing

Corey Scott Kettering faces charges of smuggling and prohibited firearm possession

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Altercation with gunfire in Lower Mainland lands two in hospital

Quiet area of Langley was awoken at 5 a.m. Friday morning to a fight involving gun shots

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

Most Read