Monday, December 10, 2012

Moray Keith drives away from viaSport


A big shakeup at viaSport, the organization formerly known as the B.C. Sport Agency.

CEO Scott Ackles dropped the bombshell Dec. 10 when he announced Moray Keith (right) was quitting as chairman of the 2010 Legacies Now spinoff. 

Ackles and Keith were named March 1 as the leaders of the "bold new sport agency for B.C." that was to "simplify" and "strengthen" the B.C. sport sector. 

Keith is a big wheel, in more ways than one. His Dueck GM is Canada's biggest auto dealership. He's a director of the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority of B.C., B.C. Lottery Corporation, Richmond Oval Corporation and B.C. Football Hall of Fame. He led private groups that partnered with municipalities to build junior hockey rinks in Chilliwack and Langley. In 2011, B.C. Lions' Waterboys co-founder Keith chaired the 99th Grey Cup Committee, of which Ackles was the general manager. Now Keith has left viaSport, with no explanation given.

Here's the Ackles memo:

Good morning everybody,

Please be advised Moray Keith has resigned from his position as chair of the viaSport Board of Directors. 
We thank Moray for his leadership and contributions to sport by leaving the organization in great shape financially, meeting all of its first year goals, and building a strong relationship with the sector and the provincial government. He has been integral to positioning viaSport for future success. 
Current board member, Cathy Priestner Allinger, will take over the position of Chair. Cathy is a long-time champion for sport in B.C. and we look forward to her continued leadership. The board will implement a strategy to recruit new directors in the new year. 
Please join me in thanking Moray for his service, and in welcoming Cathy to the position of Chair.

Scott Ackles


Priestner Allinger
Keith, I might add, is also cosy with the governing BC Liberals. By all credible public opinion polls, the party led by Premier Christy Clark is past its best-before date and a change in government is forecast for the May 14, 2013 provincial election. Keith donated nearly $100,000 to the Libs since 2005, according to Elections B.C. Deputy Premier Rich "Liquor & Lotteries" Coleman maintains his Fort Langley-Aldergrove constituency office near the main entrance of the Keith-developed Langley Events Centre

Keith's successor Cathy Priestner Allinger (left) is no stranger to viaSport. She was also his predecessor as the interim chair. Priestner Allinger is the Innsbruck 1976 speedskating silver medallist who was the executive vice-president of sport and venue management for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics after authoring the Own the Podium blueprint. She also served as managing director of Games operations at Turin 2006 and managing director of sport at Salt Lake 2002. 

Priestner Allinger also chairs the B.C. Games Society and the organizing committee for the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in Vancouver. 

UPDATE (Dec. 12): Moray Keith says there is "no magic." His departure from viaSport was amicable and part of the short-term plan. He was the startup chairman.

"I'm very content and happy with where the whole thing is going," Keith told me. "I've done my part to get it going and up and to tell you the truth I'm getting older every day and there's too many things going on. It's time for some other folks to grab a hold of the reins and take it to the next level. 

"I can't say enough about Scott Ackles and how well he works, his crew and people around him, I think they're doing a wonderful job.

"Thanks to Ida Chong and Bill Bennett and Rich Coleman. frankly, they really helped us set the stage for where this thing can grow in the future. It was well planned and Cathy Priestner (Allinger) was the one who put the initial planning in place, she's the new chair and I will ride off in the sunset and it will carry on just famously well. I'm very pleased.

"We believe that out of the $24 million budget we have, we're putting about $4 million more to the end sport user than we were a year ago. If on every 20 (million dollars) we can change it by 20% or 25%, that's huge. It's through efficiencies."

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