TransLink executives out after voters say No

VANCOUVER – Metro Vancouver’s transit authority has announced that two top managers are out and the acting chief executive will be replaced following a failed transit plebiscite.

TransLink said in a statement that Bob Paddon is no longer executive vice-president of planning and that his position has been eliminated.

Mike Richard will replace Doug Kelsey as acting president and general manager of B.C. Rapid Transit, which is responsible for SkyTrain’s Millennium and Expo Lines, West Coast Express and management of the Canada Line contract.

When interim CEO Doug Allen’s contract ends on August 10, TransLink CFO Cathy McLay will take on the role until a permanent replacement is hired.

TransLink said staffing costs across the company have been significantly reduced since 2011 through downsizing at the management and executive level.

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Earlier this month, 62 per cent of Metro Vancouver voters said No to a half-per-cent sales tax hike to fund $7.5 billion in transportation upgrades.

The transit authority refused interview requests Tuesday.

FULL COVERAGE: Transit Plebsicite

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the government was not involved in personnel decisions but repeated Premier Christy Clark’s call for more accountability at TransLink.

“The premier, I thought, was very clear. She went so far as to say, not only did people say No to the sales tax, but they said No to any new taxes to go to an organization that people don’t trust,” he said.

“We expect TransLink, moving forward, to do a better job at how they use taxpayer dollars.”

Jordan Bateman, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the most prominent advocate for the No side in the plebiscite, called the changes a “fresh start.”

He said the shakeup proves that voting No was the best way to bring changes to TransLink, despite the Yes side’s insistence that the plebiscite was not about the beleaguered transit authority.

Bateman blamed executives including Paddon and Kelsey, as well as ousted CEO Ian Jarvis, for making TransLink “secretive” and “unaccountable.”

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“The vote was a flash point where people were able to comment on the way that organization had been run. It was found lacking,” he said.

“Now I’m hopeful that the new CEO, whoever that person ends up being, will come in and bring a fresh breath of air.”

— With files from Dirk Meissner

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