OHS Canada Magazine

BC Housing CEO resigns, citing violence directed at him and community


August 5, 2022
By Todd Humber

Health & Safety british columbia CEO Resignation workplace violence

Shayne Ramsay, CEO, BC Housing. Photo: BC Housing

The chief executive officer of BC Housing  has abruptly resigned in the wake of violent incidents directed at both him and the community he serves.

Shayne Ramsay announced his retirement, effective Sept. 6, citing disturbing incidents in the community.

It started on May 7, when something shifted he said.

“I watched out my window as police descended on Crab Park. I had just returned, minutes earlier, from taking our dog Fred for our regular morning walk,” he said. “On the beach, a man lay fatally stabbed. My neighbour, who lingered a bit longer than Fred and me, was bowled over by the two young men accused of his murder as they ran across the park to get to him.”

Over the past week in British Columbia, homeless and formerly homeless people have been murdered. That includes a deadly shooting in Langley, B.C., last week where two people were killed and two other were injured. The shooter, a 28-year-old man was killed by police.

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Ramsay also said a woman was intentionally lit on fire a block from his home.

Then, things got personally dangerous for Ramsay.

“Last Tuesday afternoon, after talking to the media about my closing remarks at the Arbutus public hearing, I was swarmed by opponents and threatened with physical violence,” he said. “I had to be escorted to a private elevator, for my safety. Security at the City have since advised that after reviewing the video footage, they believe the swarming and threatened punch amounted to assault. This time it was angry words and a fist, next time it could be worse.”

He lamented the fact that small, but vocal, groups of people are becoming increasingly angry and volatile.

“While one community faces the almost certain prospect of poverty, poor health, violence, and pre-mature death, others are now unwilling to provide a welcoming space, a space that could save lives,” he said. “I think the shooting on Hastings Street, surrounded by the encampment and during another heat wave, finally did it for me. I no longer have confidence I can solve the complex problems facing us at BC Housing.”

Ramsay, who just turned 61, said he wants to spend more time with his family and tackle “problems I still feel like I can solve.”

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