Victoria hires transport expert to chair sewage plan

Millennium Line executives team up on capital city sewage treatment plant project 
British Columbia Parliament buildings | BIV files

Jane Bird and Colin Smith, two key executives in the Millennium Line project, have reunited on the seven-member board for Victoria’s on-again, off-again sewage plant proposal.

More than two years after scrapping a $780 million proposal for the plant, the Capital Regional District is at it again. It hopes to finish planning by the end of next year and complete the project by 2023 or 2024 for more than $1 billion.

Chairwoman Bird worked at Canada’s High Commission in London under ex-B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, where she managed the Canada House consolidation and renovation. The lawyer returned to Vancouver and was hired in March as an infrastructure adviser at Bennett Jones LLP.

Bird was the City of Vancouver’s project manager for the Millennium Line before becoming CEO of the Canada Line. The latter downtown-to-airport SkyTrain project opened early, in August 2009, but the cut-and-cover tunnelling method used in building the transit line forced several Cambie Village retail businesses to close and was the subject of lawsuits. Bird is also the ex-CEO of Columbia Power Corp. She sits on the boards of Global Container Terminals, Western Forest Products, IBI Group and BC Ferries.

Vice-chairman Smith was a deputy minister in the B.C. government from 1990 to 2007 and was the project director for the Millennium Line and chief financial officer of the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project. The convention centre was originally projected to cost $495 million, but ended up around $883.2 million.

The board also includes former BC Liberal deputy minister Brenda Eaton, a director of FortisBC, Transelec, TransLink and BC Safety Authority, and Jim Burke, a former executive vice-president of SNC-Lavalin.

Burke headed the company’s transportation division in Vancouver between 2002 and 2015. In April 2013, several SNC-Lavalin affiliates connected to the transportation division were banned for a decade from bidding on World Bank projects over bribery allegations in Southeast Asia.

Burke is now a consultant with Cougar Creek Consulting.

The remaining three members of the board are consultant Don Fairbairn, CRD vice-chairman Dave Howe, and CRD chief administrative officer Robert Lapham.

Bird will be paid a $30,000 annual retainer; directors will receive $12,000 each, plus a $750 per meeting per diem and $750 to prepare for each meeting. From June to October, however, Bird, Burke and Fairbairn will each be paid a $120,000 flat rate.

The board was formed after advice from former Deputy Finance Minister Peter Milburn and PartnershipsBC CEO Amanda Farrell.

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