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BC Ferries booked meeting at board members' hotel

When B.C. Ferry Services Inc. holds a public meeting in Prince Rupert in a couple weeks it will be at a hotel owned by a B.C. Ferries board member.

On Nov. 30 B.C. Ferries will host a public consultation to discuss a proposed Inside Passage route from Tsawwassen to Prince Rupert. The company will pay $300 to rent the British Columbia Room at the city's Crest Hotel for the two-hour meeting.

Stephen Smith is the president and CEO of the company that owns and operates the Crest, one of several hotels in the north coast city. He is also a director on the boards of both the B.C. Ferry Authority and B.C. Ferry Services Inc..

When the Tyee reached Smith by phone he said he was on another line and would call back, but by publication time several hours later he had not.

In a recently released review of B.C. Ferries and TransLink, the provincial government's comptroller general Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland raised concerns about accountability and conflict of interest at the ferry company. Board members are paid up to $91,000 a year, which is more than would be expected, she said, noting they decide their own pay.

“The optics may seem off a bit,” said New Democratic Party ferry critic Gary Coons in an e-mail. “It appears that BCFS still doesn't take seriously the 'inherent conflicts' that the [comptroller general] pointed out or the possibility of 'perceived' conflicts.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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