TransLink cuts managers after referendum defeat

Two senior executives eliminated at transportation authority, one of them won't be replaced

Doug Kelsey has been replaced as president and CEO of TransLink's SkyTrain subsidiary.

TransLink has axed two senior executives in the wake of the referendum defeat that has left the transportation authority without a new tax source needed for major transit expansion.

Gone is Doug Kelsey, who had been president and CEO of TransLink’s SkyTrain subsidiary, B.C. Rapid Transit Co. He’s been replaced as acting president and general manager of BCRTC by Mike Richard, a past president of the SkyTrain division with 30 years experience.

Bob Paddon has also left and his former position of executive vice-president of planning and stakeholder relations has been eliminated and his duties assigned to two other vice-presidents.

TransLink officials aren’t commenting on the changes nor have they yet disclosed any severance payouts to the terminated executives.

Paddon was paid $299,000 last year, while Kelsey collected $355,000 in total compensation.

The changes were announced by interim CEO Doug Allen in an internal memo.

Allen was installed in February to head TransLink for six months after a decision of the board to remove then-CEO Ian Jarvis, who continues to serve as an advisor.

Allen departs Aug. 10 and chief financial officer Cathy McLay will then take on the extra duties of interim CEO while a search for a new permanent chief executive continues.

“The executive search is well underway and a number of high-calibre candidates have expressed interest,” Allen said in the memo that also thanked Kelsey and Paddon for their service.

He noted the changes will further reduce executive costs following the 2014 elimination of the chief operating officer position and earlier rounds of cuts to top management ranks.

“I understand that the past several months have not been easy for employees and that changes and uncertainty have been difficult.”

B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone said he hopes the changes “reinforce the public’s demand of TransLink to do a better job of managing taxpayers’ dollars in terms of the operations of TransLink.”

A week earlier, Premier Christy Clark had said the referendum rejection by 62 per cent of Metro Vancouver voters signalled not just opposition to the proposed 0.5 per cent sales tax but that the public didn’t trust TransLink to properly spend any new money.

Stone has yet to take any further steps to reform TransLink’s governance structure nor has he yet named two provincial government appointees to the TransLink board to match the two mayors that now sit on it.

He said he believes there are still more opportunities to find savings within TransLink.

Stone also reiterated the need for mayors to deliver the region’s one-third share of contributions for capital expansion of the transit system.

– with files from Tom Fletcher