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Penny Ballem

Penny Janet Drury Ballem,[1] was the city manager for the City of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from 2008 to 2015 [2]and served as a member of the VANOC board of directors, corporate director for Bentall Capital G.P. Ltd., as well as a senior adviser to RPO Management Consultants.[3] She is a physician and clinical professor at the University of British Columbia Medical School in the department of hematology and bone marrow transplant.[4]



Ballem grew up in the Westmount area of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She was one of five children of a Montreal engineer and his wife.[5]


Ballem completed her undergraduate studies at McGill University and her Masters in Immunology at the University of Western Ontario.[5] She received her medical degree in 1978 from the University of British Columbia, and completed her specialist fellowship at the University of British Columbia as well.[6]

British Columbia Deputy Health MinisterEdit

She was recruited by British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell to be the deputy health minister of the Province of British Columbia in 2001, and subsequently abruptly resigned from the position in 2006 after giving no notice, not seeking severance, and criticizing the government's plans for the health ministry as unsound.[4]

Vancouver, British Columbia City ManagerEdit


Ballem was Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson's top choice to head Vancouver's civil administration,[7] to provide a "fresh start" after coming to power.[8] Vision Vancouver, Mayor Robertson's political party, had concerns that the previous city manager had too much power.[9] Within one week of Gregor Robertson taking office, former Vancouver city manager Judy Rogers, a 25-year veteran of Vancouver City Hall,[10] was replaced by Ballem.[4][7] Ballem was selected without the government conducting a candidate search.[9] Rogers received $572,000 severance in the transition.[11]

Bylaw powersEdit

In July 2009 Vancouver City Council passed several temporary bylaw changes which were controversial for some civil liberties advocates who argued that they "make it more difficult to exercise [the] fundamental constitutional rights to free speech, peaceful assembly and free expression."[12] As part of the changes Ballem was given special powers that were referred to by Coalition of Progressive Electors councillor Ellen Woodsworth as "wide open carte blanche."[13] Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson defended the changes as necessary.[14]

Staff transitionsEdit

Ballem was charged by Mayor Robertson with cutting costs at city hall and attempted to do so through a centralization of powers.[15] When asked about senior city staff's concerns about her micromanagement style, Ballem responded, "Tough, eh."[15]

In her first 10 months as city manager there were a large number of departures and non-scheduled retirements of city staff.[9][16]. In one such departure Ballem stripped the retiring Vancouver Park Board general manager, Susan Mundick, of all routine transitional duties.[9] Ballem then stated she would help the park board choose Mundick's replacement, a selection process city hall traditionally had not been involved in.[17] In response, Vancouver city councilor Suzanne Anton urged Mayor Robertson and the city council to limit Ballem's control of the park board.[17]

On September 1, 2009 Ballem announced that Sadhu Aufochs Johnston would be hired as Deputy City Manager to lead the city's environmental efforts.[18]


On September 15, 2015 Mayor Robertson announced that Ballem's service had "concluded" and Sadhu Aufochs Johnston would be her interim replacement.[19]

eHealth Ontario ScandalEdit

Ballem was paid $30,000 for 78 hours of consulting work for eHealth Ontario,[20] over the objections of an eHealth Ontario employee who claimed there was no signed contract.[21][22][23] Ballem stated she was unaware an eHealth Ontario staff member had questioned her invoice,[21] and that she was hired directly by the CEO of eHealth Ontario without a contract.[24] RPO Management Consultants, which Ballem served as a senior advisor, received an untendered $600,000 contract from eHealth Ontario.[25] Sarah Kramer, former CEO of eHealth Ontario, was fired on June 7, 2009 over a scandal involving failing to open more than $5.5 million worth of contracts to competitive bids.[25][26]


Ballem's partner, Olympic medalist Marion Lay, was a major backer of the Vancouver Olympics.[4]


  1. ^ College of Physicians & Surgeons of British Columbia Find a Physician's Contact Information
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Penny Ballem: Member, VANOC Board of Directors"
  4. ^ a b c d "Ex-deputy health minister takes city manager post: Vancouver's new city manager is no stranger to headlines." Archived 2012-11-07 at the Wayback Machine., Vancouver Sun, December 13, 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Meet the powerful - but tiny - deputy minister behind B.C.'s massive health care changes"[permanent dead link], BC Business, January 2003.
  6. ^ 15th John K. Friesen Conference Program
  7. ^ a b "Penny Ballem, City Manager, City of Vancouver" Archived 2009-05-27 at the Wayback Machine., BC Business, April 20, 2009.
  8. ^ "New mayor's 'fresh start' is first step of secret agenda" Archived 2012-11-07 at the Wayback Machine., Vancouver Sun, December 16, 2008.
  9. ^ a b c d "Mundick stripped of duties", 24 Hours, September 18, 2009.
  10. ^ "Veteran Vancouver city manager Judy Rogers dismissed", Vancouver Sun, December 12, 2008.
  11. ^ "5th senior manager quits Vancouver City Hall", CBC, April 28, 2009.
  12. ^ "Rights go out the window to create a seamless 2010 circus", Vancouver Sun, July 21, 2009.
  13. ^ "City manager to lead Vancouver during Olympics", The Tyee, July 23, 2009.
  14. ^ "Vancouver passes temporary Olympic Bylaws", CBC, July 24, 2009.
  15. ^ a b "Mundick's exit has Ballem written all over it", Vancouver Courier, September 18, 2009.
  16. ^ "Outgoing park board manager proud of accomplishments", Vancouver Courier, September 18, 2009.
  17. ^ a b "NPA councilor says park board losing independence", CKNW, September 19, 2009.
  18. ^ "Vancouver hires U.S. expert to make city greener", Vancouver Sun, September 1, 2009.
  19. ^ "Penny Ballem out as Vancouver's city manager", Vancouver Sun, September 15, 2015.
  20. ^ "City manager Ballem paid $30,000 for 78 hours of work in Ontario", Vancouver Sun, June 10, 2009.
  21. ^ a b "Premier defends Caplan, eHealth board", Toronto Star, June 9, 2009.
  22. ^ "Vancouver city manager Penny Ballem linked to Ontario health scandal", Georgia Straight, June 9, 2009.
  23. ^ "$30,000 for 78 hours: Scandal grows at eHealth Ontario", The Globe and Mail, August 13, 2009.
  24. ^ "Vancouver city manager's name comes up in eHealth Ontario scandal", CBC, June 9, 2009.
  25. ^ a b "Untendered $600,000 eHealth consulting contract comes to light", CBC, June 12, 2009.
  26. ^ "Head of eHealth Ontario is fired amid contracts scandal, gets big package", CBC, June 7, 2009.