Vancouver flights eat up Yukon Energy expenses

The Yukon Energy Corporation's board of directors and senior management racked up $115,864 in expenses over the last 18 months, according to an access to information request by the News.

The Yukon Energy Corporation’s board of directors and senior management racked up $115,864 in expenses over the last 18 months, according to an access to information request by the News.

Flights to Vancouver by senior management were the biggest expense during the period between September 2008 and March 2010, said president David Morrison.

In total, the five highest-ranked people at the public utility spent $89,562 on airfare, accommodations, car rentals and meals, mostly relating to trips to Vancouver, said Morrison.

“I know it sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t take long to add up,” he said on the phone from Vancouver.

That’s $35,777 on hotels, $14,921 on flights and $23,249 on meals.

The spending is necessary because Yukon Energy doesn’t have its lawyer, consultants or auditors in the territory.

The corporation’s lawyer, John Landry, works for Vancouver-based Davis LLP. The auditor general of Canada, who keeps tabs on Yukon Energy’s books, has her nearest office in Vancouver.

Morrison argues the costs of flying senior management down to Vancouver rather than flying third parties up to Whitehorse is more cost-effective.

“I can fly down there and meet with them and I can pay for one airfare,” he said. “Or I can fly them up here and pay for four or five airfares.”

“It’s more economic and convenient to do it that way.”

Yukon Energy’s main consultants, InterGroup Consulting, are based in Winnipeg, but senior management rarely travels there, said Morrison.

“We split it down the middle and we both go to Vancouver and it’s generally a lot easier,” he said.

Morrison couldn’t enumerate the number of visits the figure covered, but agreed to provide the information another time.

The board of directors’ expenses on the Outside travel-related costs are much lower, according to the information request.

But their total mileage costs, $12,056, sticks out like a sore thumb compared to senior management’s $1,086.

“That’s driving back and forth to board meetings,” said Morrison.

All board meetings during the time period were held in Whitehorse.

The board holds around six meetings a year, which means the $12,056 covers around nine meetings during the time period in the information request.

That’s $1,340 on mileage per board meeting.

And for eight months of that 18-month period, there were only four board members instead of eight due to four resignations led by former board director Willard Phelps in June 2009. The public utility still hasn’t filled those vacant board seats.

One board member, Pat Irvin, lives in Watson Lake, while one of the former members, Greg Hakonson, resides in Dawson City.

While senior management also travels a lot within the territory, they likely use a company vehicle, which isn’t included on personal travel expenses, said Morrison.

Senior management includes Morrison, director of resource planning and regulatory affairs Hector Campbell, director of human resources and information management Linda Greer, chief financial officer Ed Mollard, and former vice-president of operations David McDonald, who left the corporation last fall.

Contact James Munson at jamesm@yukon-news.com