Dec 13,2007 Tri City News

By Jeff Nagel - Surrey North Delta Leader - December 13, 2007

The new TransLink board: James Bruce, Cindy Chan Piper, Bob Garnett, Sarah Goodman, Dale Parker, Nancy Olewiler, Robert Tribe, Skip Triplett and David Unruh.

Nine new unelected directors have been picked to run TransLink and many of them are business executives with ties to Olympic agencies or Crown corporations.

The new TransLink board that takes over Jan. 1 consists of:

- Dale Parker (Vancouver) a corporate director, Vancouver Police Board member and past president of WorkSafeBC.

- Nancy Olewiler (North Shore)  an SFU economics professor and public policy program director, and a director on the B.C. Hydro board.

- David Unruh (North Shore) a director of Union Gas and former executive with West Coast Energy. He's also a corporate director with several other firms and sits on the board of Canada Line Rapid Transit.

- James Bruce (Vancouver) investment banker, chair of the 2010 Games Operating Trust Society and partner in Capital West Partners.

- Sarah Goodman (Vancouver)  a vice-president at forestry giant Weyerhaeuser who also sits on a VANOC sustainability advisory committee.

- Robert Tribe (Abbotsford)  a professional engineer who headed SkyTrain development; he has major project development experience with SNC-Lavalin.

- Bob Garnett (Richmond)  a chartered accountant with Paradigm Management Partners and corporate director; vice-chair of Coast Capital Savings.

- Cindy Chan-Piper (Vancouver) an urban planner who has worked with many cities in Metro Vancouver.

- Skip Triplett (Surrey) president of Kwantlen University College.

The first three on the list are to serve a three-year term, the second three will serve for two years, and the final three are to serve one year.

They were picked Wednesday at a closed door meeting by the new Mayors Council on Regional Transportation.

The new board replaces the 12 outgoing TransLink directors who were all elected mayors or city councillors.

The mayors council was provided 15 names vetted by a screening panel, which interviewed more than 200 applicants.

No directors have been appointed from the northeast sector but Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, who chairs the mayors council, defended the choices.

"People weren't picked specifically by where they live," she said. "They were picked by the attributes they can bring to the board."

Watts said many on the mayors council are frustrated with the radical reform of TransLink spearheaded by transportation minister Kevin Falcon.

A large block of mayors voted to boycott the selection process entirely, but they were defeated in a weighted vote by Vancouver and Surrey. (A weighted vote means each mayor's vote is weighted by population, giving the two largest cities the ability to outvote nearly all the others).

"Vancouver and Surrey carry a lot of votes," said Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who stormed out of the meeting. "When they decided to vote in favour of this board being appointed, that left most of us out in the cold."

Watts said the province's legislation anticipated a possible boycott.

Had mayors refused to choose, the top three on the list of 15 nominees would have automatically become TransLink's new board.

Watts said it's better to have a full board of nine rather than just three.

"I'm willing to give the process a chance," she said. "I think we need to walk down that road and see where it's going to take us."

She noted mayors also will have an ongoing chance to re-assess their participation in TransLink, because the mayors council must approve property tax hikes and long-range plans.

The mayors council went with nine names out of the 15 that were recommended by their screening panel rep, ex-premier Mike Harcourt.

"We endorsed Mikey's nine," said Maple Ridge Mayor Gordy Robson, who is disappointed with the outcome.

"That's awfully weighted toward the City of Vancouver and the downtown business community," he said, but added most mayors agreed to "have faith in the process."

He said the mayors were given very limited information to make their choices.

"It is a totally business-oriented board with heavy ties to the Liberal government," Corrigan said.

"It's a board that Kevin Falcon and his friends at the Vancouver Board of Trade could be sure would do what they want," he added.

He said the province is trying to gain control of TransLink while putting the accountability on the mayors.

"Everybody's disgusted and disappointed."

The newly structured TransLink will have the power to boost fuel taxes by three cents per litre, along with matching increases from property taxes and transit fares.

Under the new system, three directors are to be appointed every year for a three-year term, ensuring a steady rotation of the board.