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Rapid changeover generates big bills at BC Crown corporation

During a three year period the British Columbia Innovation Council spent nearly a million dollars on severance and moving expenses for top officials.

The details are included in an issues note prepared for Pat Bell, the minister of jobs, tourism and skills training. The note was released to The Tyee as part of a heavily censored response to a freedom of information request for records of a review of the BCIC, a Crown corporation.

The BCIC "had rapid changeover" and went through five CEOs in three and a half years, Bell's briefing said.

Matthew Watson and David Dolphin each exited the position in the 2007-2008 fiscal year, and each was paid $100,000.

Dean Rockwell did not receive a severance payment when he left in 2010, but the BCIC had reimbursed him $211,163.59 for moving expenses in payments made over two years, it said. He'd taken the job in 2008, returning to B.C. from Atlanta, Georgia.

Lisa Payne briefly acted as CEO after Rockwell's departure, but left the organization in late 2010. She was followed as CEO by Danny Robinson, who received a severance payment of $84,500 in 2010-2011.

The briefing note also says former COO Cindy Lum received $234,090 in severance pay in 2007-2008 and "Between 2008-09 and 2010-11, six other members of the administration were laid off by then CEO Dean Rockwell, with severance totalling $238,074."

Altogether, the payments listed in Bell's note add up to nearly $1 million. Since it was written, the BCIC has had two more CEOs, including the office's current occupant, John Jacobson, who replaced acting CEO Mark Payne in 2012.

Toronto consultants 22c Partners Inc. produced a report on the BCIC and the Premier's Technology Council in 2011, which the government almost entirely redacted before releasing. Included in the release was an email from a JTI official, Melanie Friesen, to one of the consultants that said the recommendations could be grouped into four main areas: Board/Governance; Programs & Partnerships; Mandate; and Structure & Budget.

A decision note went to cabinet on Nov. 2, 2011, but that too was heavily censored.

The BCIC is mandated to develop partnerships between universities and industry to commercialize technology.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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