BC Place Stadium boss's 'massive' severance revealed to be more than $400,000

The general manager of BC Place Stadium, who was fired after the provincial election, received a $460,140 golden parachute, according to public sector executive compensation disclosures.

BC Place

The general manager of BC Place Stadium, who was fired after the provincial election, received a $460,140 golden parachute, according to public sector executive compensation disclosures.

The pay packet lists were released July 15, the same day as the Public Accounts for the year-ended March 31, 2014.

Howard Crosley, GM since 1998, received a total $490,563 in 2013-2014, of which $26,348 was salary, $438,375 severance and $19,964 a vacation payout. He also had a $1,601 vehicle allowance.

Staff were told Crosley was gone a week after the May 14, 2013 provincial election, when Vancouver Convention Centre general manager Ken Cretney’s duties were expanded. But a footnote on the PavCo executive compensation report said Crosley “is no longer with PavCo effective May 15, 2013.” 

“That’s very fishy timing,” said Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation B.C. director Jordan Bateman. “It’s a massive number, there’s clearly more to this story than meets the eye.”

Crosley was paid $292,720 in 2012-2013, his last full year of employment. PavCo refused to comment in May 2013, citing confidential personnel information.

PavCo chair Stuart McLaughlin did not respond to a request for an interview on July 15. On July 16, PavCo emailed a statement attributed to McLaughlin that said: “During 2013-14, severance was paid in accordance with provincial government guidelines. The payment reflects a number of factors, including length of service with the corporation.”

“I don’t think it’s a justifiable severance package at all, they tried to bury it,” said NDP critic Shane Simpson, who noted that Education Minister Peter Fassbender was PavCo's chair and Attorney-General Suzanne Anton a director while they both successfully ran as rookie BC Liberal candidates in the election. They both resigned from the board after the election.

Crosley oversaw the stadium during the 2010 Winter Olympics and the subsequent $514 million renovation. His tenure was not without controversy. In November 2006, a janitorial contractor collapsed on the job and died later in hospital. The incident was not reported to WorkSafeBC for nearly two years. The original inflated fabric roof ripped and collapsed after a minor Jan. 5, 2007 snowstorm. An engineer’s report published a year later confirmed the roof was not heated to prevent the buildup of snow. The stadium reopened September 30, 2011 with major service problems and was hampered by rainwater leaks for several months.

“Pretty surprising he survived that long given the high-profile missteps of B.C. Place over the years, but to put salt in the wounds and have taxpayers on the hook for that severance,” Bateman said.

PavCo reported a $10.505 million loss on $111.05 million revenue in the last fiscal year.

Coincidentally, crews have returned to the B.C. Place roof for the third consecutive summer to replace fabric panels stained by grease that is leaking from the roof-support cables.

Cretney’s total pay was $374,260 for 2013-2014. He added interim CEO to his job title after Dana Hayden quit at the end of January. Former deputy minister Hayden, CEO since summer 2012, was paid $270,339 for the year. After leaving PavCo, she became the new chair of PartnershipsBC.

Max Coppes, president of the B.C. Cancer Agency, was the highest paid health authority executive at $561,356 from the Provincial Health Services Authority.

Powerex managing director Thomas Bechard topped the list at $973,431, which included a $540,000 performance-based bonus from the BC Hydro subsidiary.

Other top earners included: BC Hydro CEO Charles Reid ($530,859), ex-B.C. Lottery Corp. CEO Michael Graydon ($506,800), B.C. Securities Commission chair Brenda

Graydon left BCLC on Feb. 4. His pay included $48,135.91 in lieu of notice. An internal government audit found Graydon worked for two months in conflict of interest while he negotiated a new job with the Paragon Gaming subsidiary that wants to build and operate a $535 million hotel/casino complex beside B.C. Place.