TransLink should report supplier payments, says political watchdog

Business in Vancouver investigation reveals inventory of contractors and suppliers that includes brother of former TransLink boss   

Photo: Rob Kruyt

A company owned by the brother of Ian Jarvis was paid more than the ex-TransLink CEO was in 2014, but you won’t find that in TransLink’s list of suppliers obtained by Business in Vancouver.

The Financial Information Act Return shows TransLink paid Ian Jarvis $483,625 in 2014. The report does not show the $676,000 in payments to Trevor Jarvis Contracting Ltd. from the subsidiary that operates SkyTrain.

TransLink media adviser Chris Bryan said that’s because subsidiaries like BC Rapid Transit Corp. (BCRTC) are not subject to the act, which requires public organizations to annually list suppliers of goods and services worth $25,000 and up.

Bryan said Trevor Jarvis Contracting performs landscaping and maintenance at 90 sites, including SkyTrain stations, transit centres, bus loops, park and rides, rectifier stations and HandyDart locations. It is also contracted for snow and ice removal.

“Trevor Jarvis’ firm’s relationship with TransLink subsidiary BCRTC pre-dates Ian Jarvis’,” Bryan said. “It has been contracted by BCRTC to do landscaping and other maintenance work for 30 years.”

In 2012, three companies filed bids for the landscaping and grounds maintenance services contract. Rocksolid Enterprises was hired for West Coast Express and Coast Mountain Bus Company, while Trevor Jarvis got the BCRTC gig.

Trevor Jarvis and G. Trasolini Contractors were the only bidders in 2013 for the snow clearing and ice/frost mitigation job and both were contracted.

Trevor Jarvis declined comment and referred questions to TransLink.

Dermod Travis, executive director of IntegrityBC, said TransLink is “skirting the law” and should publish suppliers to subsidiaries, like BC Hydro’s Powerex Corp., Powertech Labs Inc. and Columbia Hydro Constructors Ltd. did last year.

“It’s entirely inappropriate,” Travis said. “They’ve tried to find a way to justify hiding these expenses so they do not create additional controversy for TransLink.”

Documents obtained by BIV via Freedom of Information show that when Ian Jarvis, who was TransLink’s original CFO in 1999, stepped down as CEO to become board adviser and was replaced by Doug Allen on February 11, a Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure official suddenly became curious about Trevor Jarvis’ work for TransLink.

“Hi Folks: Urgent issue. Just had a call from MOTI asking if Ian’s brother has or had a contract with TransLink,” wrote vice-president Bob Paddon to others on the senior management team. “I recall that his brother may have had a contract with BCRTC at one time. Please advise asap.”

CFO Cathy McLay, the acting CEO since August, wrote in an email to assistant deputy minister Jacquie Dawes that Trevor Jarvis’ landscaping contract was based on a three-year, plus two option years term and valued at $386,000 in 2013, $394,000 in 2014 and $402,000 in 2015.

The snow and ice removal contract was weather-dependent, and its value was not available, according to McLay. “We have a signed code of conduct from Ian disclosing the relationship and that he has no involvement in the procurement,” McLay wrote.

Ian Jarvis was the highest paid of the 524 TransLink employees earning $100,000 or more in 2014. There were 90 more employees earning six-figures than in 2013 and 107 more than in 2012. TransLink blamed the increase, in part, on overtime from SkyTrain service outages in 2014. 

Cubic Transportation Systems, the company behind the overdue and over-budget Compass card and fare gates system, was paid $9,047,765, bringing its total since 2009 to $75.63 million.

Cubic hardware and software fare collection equipment was part of the Canada Line launch in 2009. The San Diego-based company was awarded the Compass project in late 2010, a year after the federal and B.C. governments announced the $100 million project. The budget has since ballooned to $194 million and systemwide public rollout is finally expected this fall.

IBM Canada was removed as the principal subcontractor. Since 2011, TransLink paid it $9.5 million.

The first name on the list of suppliers of goods and services $25,000 and up is 1034 Resources Inc., the holding company owned by Allen, which was paid $31,884. Allen was paid $35,000-a-month between February and August.

TransLink reported spending $526.5 million on suppliers. It did list salaries over $75,000 for its subsidiaries, of which Coast Mountain Bus Company accounted for $327.9 million.

TransLink’s 2014 fiscal year end was last December 31, and its list of salaries ($75,000 and up) and suppliers ($25,000 and up) was due to the Ministry of Finance six months later, according to the Financial Information Act. It took until September 15 for TransLink to post the report on its website, but BIV obtained a copy on September 11 after making requests to board chairman Barry Forbes and general counsel Gigi Chen-Kuo.