Donham a key player in getting cleanup on track
Letter to the Editor by David Darrow
Cape Breton Post
Sat., Mar. 10, 2007
I believe media reports regarding Parker Donham's departure from the
Sydney Tar Ponds Agency have overlooked something very important: the
invaluable contribution he made to this major undertaking.
I had the great pleasure of working with him on the cleanup from 2003
until 2006 and I have no hesitation whatsoever in stating that, had it not
been for his efforts, the project would not be where it is today - on the
threshold of implementation.
When Parker joined the project team, there was little agreement about how
to approach the cleanup and little engagement of community leaders, and
after 20 years of failed attempts there was a great deal of skepticism
about governments' ability to get the job done. Parker used to joke that,
for the tar ponds agency, the cleanup was a major communications project
with a little engineering work mixed in. For a number of years, this
assessment was not far off.
The situation today is much different. The dissension has largely
disappeared. More and more people are beginning to appreciate the short
and long-term benefits which can be derived from this undertaking and are
turning their thoughts to the future.
Stakeholder groups from all segments of the community have expressed their
support for the project and become fully engaged in the efforts to move it
forward. Perhaps most important, the cleanup is on a solid path towards
Clearly, the project's fortunes have seen a major, positive reversal in
recent years. This is not to say that Parker single-handedly turned the
project around: that would be unfair to the many other dedicated
individuals. What I can say, though, is that Parker's vision, passion and
dedication had a very positive impact on the project and on the
community's perception of it.
You may not agree with everything he has had to say about the project and
its detractors over the years but I don't believe anyone can deny that he
always had the best interests of the community in mind.
Parker's vision of what Sydney and Cape Breton can become without the
stigma of the tar ponds motivated him to pour his life into the project.
It was rare for him to take an evening or a weekend off, and even when he
did he was only a phone call away.
Thanks in large measure to Parker's efforts, Sydney area residents and
other Cape Bretoners won't for very much longer have to simply "imagine"
what their community can be without the Tar Ponds.