Dean Fortin leaves job at Pacifica Housing after leadership shakeup

Board chairman says: ‘We did part ways a couple of months back, and that’s all I can say about that’

A shakeup at Pacifica Housing means Dean Fortin is no longer with the non-profit, with the former Victoria mayor declining Thursday to explain why the two parted ways.

The housing society said a determination was made at the end of 2018 that Fortin would move on.

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Margaret Eckenfelder, who was made acting executive director at the time, will continue in that position, said Pacifica board chairman Jaime Hall. Eckenfelder served four years as assistant deputy minister with the B.C. environmental protection division and is a former planning director with the District of North Vancouver.

“We are in the process of determining what the next steps are going to be. … We are quite happy with Margaret Eckenfelder having agreed to step in and the role she is playing,” Hall said.

Fortin was hired as executive director Aug. 24, 2015. He had been Victoria’s mayor from 2008 to 2014, before being defeated by Lisa Helps in the 2014 election by just 89 votes.

At the time, Deborah George, Pacifica’s board chairwoman, said the new position with Pacifica was a good fit given Fortin had been “instrumental in raising the profile of housing affordability.”

Citing human resources privacy policy, Hall would only say “Dean Fortin was our executive director for three years.

“Don’t take the fact that we are declining to make comment to be an affirmation that there was something wrong or that it was performance related,” Hall said.

“All I’m confirming is that Dean is no longer executive director at Pacifica. We did part ways a couple of months back, and that’s all I can say about that.”

Fortin also declined comment.

Pacifica provides affordable homes and support services to help individuals and families. It houses about 2,000 people in about 35 buildings in Greater Victoria, Duncan and Nanaimo.

It runs one of two modular-home communities meant to house people who were living in Nanaimo’s tent city.

The province bought vacant land on Terminal Avenue and signed a three-year lease with the city for a property on Labieux Road. Pacifica is running the housing on Labieux Road, which has 87 residents.

“Everyone pulled the stops out on that one,” Hall said, adding that Fortin was involved. “That literally went from the last week of August starting to conceive of this to identifying the sites to getting … that set up by Nov. 30.

“It was a real substantial accomplishment and we’ve got other projects on the go now,” he said.

The non-profit is in the development phase of three new buildings in Victoria and the West Shore that will add 300 units.

“We are very confident about the future,” Hall said. “People will come and I will come and go, but I’m very confident and proud of the work we’ve done and what we’ll do in the future.”

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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