CRD Board Chair Barb Desjardins thinks that the combination of high-level expertise and local experience of the Project Board (PB) rounds out to a very strong team and is hopeful that we’ll end up with something “we can all be proud of”. What we could all be proud of is clearly described in the project vision and goals. “The PB will approach the project from the perspective that waste materials should be treated as resources…” and “…deliver a sewage treatment and resource recovery system that is innovative, achievable and optimizes benefits – economic, social and environmental (including climate change mitigation) – for the long term”. Despite the same values being embedded in the TOR and/or charter of the two initiatives to date, McLouglin Point and the CRD’s Technical Oversight Panel solution sets, CRD Director Derman pointed out that neither one came close to fulfilling them.
The degree to which these values and vision are realized in this third kick at the can will depend on a number of factors, not the least of which is the Project Members Role in the TOR: “During the Business Case planning process Project Board members will approach options objectively, and will consider each option on the basis of the information and analysis that is developed by the Project Director and Project Team”. As we all know, past actions and experience significantly impact our capacity for objectivity within a new context. Of the seven members, four have experience with the CRD on the sewage file. Will their “local experience” be an asset in rounding out a strong team, as suggested by Chair Desjardins? Or will it be a liability in meeting their singular role responsibility — impartially considering each option?
For those of the four who can provide numerous examples of how their past actions have been aligned with the values of the current project, such as innovation and maximizing environmental benefits, their experience clearly will be an asset. For those whose actions have been contrary, such as being innovation averse or tolerating minimal environmental standards, the degree to which it will be a liability will depend on the extent of their face saving or rationalization. Its impact will depend on the skill of the Chair in confronting it and whether the decision making process is majority rule.
As most of the PB’s deliberations and decision making will be in camera, taxpayers will never get to see how well the individual members fulfill their role of objectively considering the options. That they won’t be subject to public scrutiny may actually allow them to more quickly distance themselves from any of their previous actions at odds with the project’s vision, goals and values. Maybe we will end up with something “we can all be proud of”.