“No way to run a railroad”: A phrase used to express one’s discontent with the lack of organization by the administrators of a project or venture.
It has been said that a small mistake in the beginning usually turns out to be a big mistake in the end. Since the beginning of the Valley Line LRT construction I have received numerous complaints from my constituents regarding the information available and how it is being – or more importantly – not being communicated to the public. It is clear from these complaints, which have been consistent and ongoing for over a year now, that the Valley Line P3 (Public/Private Partnership) consortium—TransEd Partners– are plainly not interested in a clear and transparent communication effort as to how this important project impacts the public.
Last September, I officially expressed my concern through a meeting with Communication and Project leads from TransEd along with Communication leads from the City of Edmonton. This meeting was triggered by trees being cut down along 66 Street with no notification or information shared with the surrounding community or my office. I had just finished reviewing the P3 Contract and a number of questions for me arose concerning a number of commitments and milestones that had not been met.
Following that meeting, I received assurances from TransEd’s leads that they were very much committed to engaging with Edmontonians, and that they were “just working out some kinks” in how they communicated as they started construction. I almost dared to believe them. That is, until they started pounding jackhammers up and down 66 Street with no warning to my constituents or myself.
All good construction firms know that for a project to go well, good communication amongst its stakeholders is not only important… it is critical. This is even more critical when it comes to P3’s. My own review of the public engagement elements in the City’s contract with TransEd show our side has been well-negotiated by the City; of course this is only my opinion. Yet having been in the construction field for over 25 years now I cannot with a clear conscience say that the public interest is being served, and this plainly is due to the numerous and major communication failures on part of the TransEd group.
In case you haven’t had the pleasure of reading the City’s contract with TransEd (and you can—know your rights–see the link below), on the very first page of the Communications and Engagement part, it states:
Nature of Public Communications and Public Engagement
Project Co should understand that public communications and engagement activities… will involve not only timely sharing of information about the Project with Communications Stakeholders but also an exchange of information with Communications Stakeholders. This latter type of communication will involve learning from Communications Stakeholders about conditions or issues that may affect the Project and which require appropriate consideration or action. It will also involve responding to comments and queries and appropriately incorporating input into the delivery of the Project Work. In undertaking many of its obligations… it is expected that Project Co will engage with Communications Stakeholders to provide information regarding its plans so as to ensure effective implementation of the Project Work
https://www.edmonton.ca/documents/RoadsTraffic/Project Agreement Valley Line LRT Schedule 12 – Public Communications and Public Engagement.pdf
What we’ve seen so far in TransEd is an organization that seems to do everything it can NOT to share information, and will maybe deign to hold an open house only after residents threaten to light torches and sharpen pitchforks. Even then, they appear only willing to tell, not to listen.
As the saying goes it takes two parties to tango; what do you do when you feel you are dancing alone?
TransEd needs to pick up its socks and up its engagement game. Doing the physical work is one thing, but it’s our tax dollars and we deserve to know the where’s, when’s and the why’s if this project is to be met with community joy, rather than community scorn.