Ex-Canada Line CEO to be recycled?

Campbell-era infrastructure expert returning to prominence

A little bird, with a lower-case b, told me about a big appointment on the horizon.

Jane Bird, a protege of Ken Dobell (remember him?), is expected to take a senior management or advisory role on some major infrastructure projects around Southwestern British Columbia. My sources tell me that her initial assignments could include the controversial demolition of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts in Vancouver and the on-again, off-again Victoria sewage treatment plant.

Bird’s resume includes stints under ex-Premier Gordon Campbell at Canada’s high commission in London, as CEO of the Columbia Power Corporation and CEO of the Canada Line, the SNC-Lavalin built-and-operated airport-to-downtown SkyTrain. The Canada Line construction caused major havoc for merchants in a retail district on Cambie Street. Hundreds of those merchants are eligible for compensation.

Bird’s corporate directorships include Global Container Terminals, Western Forest Products, IBI Group and BC Ferries.GIP_JaneBird_290-400

In March, she joined the Vancouver office of law firm Bennett Jones as the (get ready for this mouthful) senior business advisor, complex public and private construction and infrastructure advisor.

I noticed that Bird met last Oct. 19 — federal election day — with Mike Magee, Mayor Gregor Robertson’s chief of staff. The meeting, but not the reason for it, was recorded in Magee’s calendar, which I obtained under Freedom of Information.

It’s a good time for anyone in Bird’s business. Because it’s 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is running deficits and unleashing billions of dollars for infrastructure spending. Meanwhile, the B.C. government is in mediation with SNC-Lavalin over Evergreen Line cost overruns and TransLink is keeping secret the new and higher cost estimates for the proposed Broadway subway and Surrey light rail projects that rely on federal taxpayers’  money.

Bird has not responded to my phone and email messages. I will let you know if she does.

UPDATE: Bird was named June 9 to chair the board that is planning the on-again, off-again, on-again sewage treatment plant in Victoria. The transit (but not sewage) expert will be paid $120,000 for the first six months. More details at this story in Business in Vancouver. 

4 thoughts on “Ex-Canada Line CEO to be recycled?

  1. e.a. foster

    How every interesting.

    Nice to see some are keeping their “friends” employed. Wonder what her salary will be?

  2. George Brissette

    Ms Bird was the City of Vancouver’s project manager on the Millenium Line ( RTP 2000 ) and despite massive opposition pushed for the still dead-end route to be run thru the Grandview Cut. Extensive wildlife habitat was destroyed and much of it never returned.
    The consultations she held were a sham and classic bait and switch.
    Virtually everyone wanted the Millenium Line to stop at Commercial Drive and then figure out what best to do from there but Ms. Bird and the City of Vancouver were determined to push West of Commercial Dr along the northern alignment as part of the sweetheart deal they made for Finning Int before they left town when all the industrial land from Clark Drive to Scotia Street was rezoned to High-Tech in order to increase it’s value.
    That was how the COV paid for the skytrain alignment, make their friends some money.
    Since then not a single development along the northside of Great Northern Way has delivered 1 dollar in CAC’s for Mount Pleasant North. Nothing from the Great Northern Way Campus, UBC, Emily Carr Univ, QLT, Mountain Equipment Co-op and so on. Noise levels from GNW have doubled as the higher developments reflect the noise back into the residential nbhd to the South, we now have an echo effect.
    Land immediately West of the Clark/VCC skytrain station that was promised to be a park was instead paved over and fenced off by the the Greenest City, COV, who leases the land to Shaw Cable for fleet parking of their large fossil fuel burning trucks for 6 thousand dollars/year.

    During the consultations on the Clark station residents were promised that there would be an entrance to the station from Clark Drive and that it would be Fully Accessible. True to form there is no entrance from Clark Drive nor is the station and # 84 bus Fully Accessible from Clark Drive. We were promised Handicapped parking spots outside of the station entrance, there are none. Instead nearly all the free street parking spots along Great Northern Way are day after day occupied by the private vehicles of Shaw Cable employees, Vancouver Community College King Edward Campus staff and students along with GNWC and MEC employees. Everybody has their favourite spots. We were also promised that extensive Resident Parking Only zones would be put in place similar to other skytrain station areas. We have no RPO zones and limited PPO zones. The majority of free parking on the residential streets to the South and S/W of the Clark station are occuppied by VCC KEC staff, students and Shaw Cable employees including all the parking bordering our Inner-City park, China Creek Park North. The competition for free parking starts shortly after 6 a.m. Despite the U-Pass programme vehicle traffic to VCC KEC has doubled and almost 100% of VCC staff drive to VCC KEC. VCC KEC’s pay parking lots operate at about 30% capacity.
    The COV did however put in parking restrictions outside of MEC, at their request, to encouarge fossil-fuel powered food trucks to park right outside their front doors M-F. Apparently the outdoor experts cannot grocery shop or cook.

    As far back as RTP 2000 the COV claimed that skytrain would run all the way to UBC. Not believing the claims I made multiple trips to the COV’s RTP 2000 office to get some direct questions answered. Time and again I was given the runaround but eventually I got a quick meeting with Ms. Bird and by then I only had 1 question left,
    ” will skytrain or any other form of rail ever run West of Arbutus, her answer was a blunt NO. ”
    The area residents wouldn’t allow it and the elected politicians wouldn’t put their careers on the line for it. When I tried to get more details she walked away and I was informed that I was no longer welcome at their office. Follow up enquiries via letter were never replied to.
    So get ready folks, massive upzoning and towers are coming. Promises will be made and broken.
    I hope the homeowners along Tenth avenue kept those ‘ No skytrain’ signs handy for when the burrowing starts.

  3. zalm

    Thanks George – we did.

    Good summary of Ms Bird’s history. She was polite enough, but left no doubt with us she had received her marching orders adn she was going to follow them no matter what anyone in the city had to say about it.


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