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Green Line Board must represent diverse Calgarians using transit: Coun. Farrell

The expectation of diversity on the board governing Calgary’s Green Line was outlined Monday, as the city moves ahead with the transit megaproject.

Last month, council approved the $5.5 billion Green Line alignment and staging.

In Monday’s Green Line committee meeting, members began follow through on the plan to create a board to oversee the project delivery.

Administration said the board creation was critical to ensure that the appropriate governance is in place so the project is delivered successfully — on time and on budget.

The Green Line Technical and Risk Committee (TRC) and Executive Steering Committee (ESC) were said it would mitigate risks associated with the project.

“It’s asking too much, I think, of ESC to both run the city, as well as be accountable for the governance together with committee and council,” said Don Fairbairn, chair of the TRC.

“It’s such a big undertaking. So fundamentally, we thought that should change.”

An external search firm will be recruiting members for the board. This is to ensure that the Green Line Board has members with the right skills.

The board will consist of three to nine members. They should have a range of expertise such as leadership, engineering design, construction, project management, and urban design.

Diversity on the board

Last week, the city held three days of public consultation on systemic racism in the city. At its conclusion, the city said it would review its business units to come up with better race-related practices.

In the desired skills criteria for the board, diversity is mentioned at the top of the list. While part of the hiring process, it’s not in the initial draft for the Green Line Board bylaws.

Coun. Jyoti Gondek said diversity and expertise are values that should be embedded in the board’s composition. She said this is necessary so the recruitment firm finds diverse candidates and find the quality people needed.

“Diversity is not a desired skills criteria,” said Coun. Gondek.

“Diversity is something that we’re seeking as an outcome.”

She said it’s not nitpicking, but in fact quite technical.

“If we’re not asking for diversity to be embedded within a recruitment process, that’s where the wheels fall off.”

Coun. Druh Farrell said diversity important for Calgary Transit. It has a highly diverse group of users and their prospective needs must be understood.

Fairbairn said the primary commitment is to have the entirety of the board best represent the interests of the citizens. Diversity is of the utmost importance, he said.

“If we fail to adequately represent the various underrepresented elements of the City of Calgary […] we won’t fail because of lack of effort,” he said.

“We may simply fail because it’s very difficult to achieve all of the other skills and balance all those skills across the board.”