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November 15, 2018

Vancouver’s housing CEO leaves public life and jumps to city-contracted modular homes company

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The City of Vancouver’s chief proponent for modular homes has parted ways with city hall to take an executive position with the very company contracted to build such homes.

Modular home company Horizon North Inc., which holds a $66 million contract with the city and BC Housing, announced Nov. 1 it was appointing Luke Harrison as its Vice President, Business Development.

Harrison is presently Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA), a municipal entity that oversees affordable housing projects on city-owned land.

In August 2017, Harrison and VAHA staff recommended to city council that Horizon be awarded the $66 million contract to build 600 modular homes for homeless and vulnerable people following a public procurement process.

His departure follows that of Vancouver’s head of real estate services Bill Aujla for Aquilini Development, which sparked much controversy in July, prompting then- mayoral candidate—and now mayor—Kennedy Stewart to call for new conflict of interest rules for both politicians and staff.

Stewart pledged to bring in a “cooling off” period of 12 months, preventing developers and contractors actively doing business with the city from hiring senior staff.

“When a senior bureaucrat leaves their city hall office on Monday to take a new role on Tuesday with a private firm that does business with the city it undermines the special position of trust with the public that senior staff have,” stated Stewart.

“Senior civil servants have valuable knowledge and relationships that can potentially create unfair and profitable advantage for their new private sector employers, simply because of the position they currently occupy with the city,” he added, in his election platform.

The city has a Code of Conduct to disclose potential conflicts of interest and handling of confidential information.

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