Better Construction

I ran for City Council because I wanted to be a part of a team committed to building a great city. Because of this, I was a big supporter of an ambitious 2015-2018 Capital Budget. However, it is no secret that the City has seen its fair share of construction challenges. In particular, there have been concerns over a perceived lack of oversight and mismanagement of some of our major capital projects, in particular, the Walterdale Bridge, Metro Line, and 102nd Avenue bridge. There are also local examples too; drainage project gone awry in Greenfield lead to repeated attempts to fix a road properly. This is not okay.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED

In my campaign launch speech, I spoke to the challenges that this Mayor and council have had to face over the years, and the remarkable progress we have made through due diligence, consultation, and an innovative approach to building our city.

We may have inherited some stinky situations in 2013 with the challenges listed earlier, however, this Mayor and council did not cower, we did not make excuses, and we did not blame previous councils. Instead, we got to work, changed our City Manager then worked with her to rebuild and reorganize the structure of the city administration. Namely, we created a new department responsible for delivering our construction projects on time.

We rebuilt the policies and procedures for construction projects and contract management, initiated the first wall to wall program and service review for every line of business the city is involved in to make sure that we can build this city with competency, operate with efficacy, and lead with innovation.

WHERE WE CAN DO BETTER

We need to be both ambitious and accountable. On Tuesday, June 20th, Executive Committee received a report in response to a motion I made late last year asking for an exploration into the creation of a Capital Project Advisory Committee that would provide us with industry expertise and best practice guidance related to the procurement of projects, design and engineering, management, construction, global intelligence gathering, and more.FullSizeRender.jpg

The report outlined the various ways that the City is working to improve the delivery of capital projects, and I’m proud to report that the City of Edmonton is currently exploring a partnership with the University of Alberta to create a task force on best practices for capital project delivery through the Hole School of Construction Engineering made up of experts in industry, academia, and beyond. This task force, I believe, can eventually be used to address the common challenges we face with project delivery and provide us as a City with external guidance on the best ways to create successful and durable capital projects.

As a Council, and as a City, we are taking a number of steps to improve the ways in which capital projects are delivered. Namely, we created a new city department, Integrated Infrastructure Services and a new Capital Project Management Framework, that is solely focused on delivering projects on time and on budget. Listed below are the improvements that we previously put into place in order to provide guidance and ongoing training to city staff leading infrastructure projects:

In addition to these far reaching improvements, in 2016 Council also approved the Enterprise Risk Management Framework. This framework allows us to understand the range of organizational risks we may face with certain policy changes, such as the Metro Line.

WHAT WE HAVE ACHIEVED SO FAR

While the major projects get the most attention, particularly when issues arise with them, it is worth noting that the vast majority of our capital projects as a City come in on or under budget and on time or early. In the first quarter of 2017, 108 out of 149 of our standalone capital projects fell within the sweet spot of on time (or early) and on budget (or under).

Q1- Period ending March 31, 2017

 

 

 

 

STATUS

SCOPE

BUDGET

   SCHEDULE

[G]

Within the parameters defined in the approved project charter

On/Under Budget

On/Ahead of Schedule

[Y]

Scope Increased 1-10% *

Over Budget 1-10%

Behind Schedule 1-10%

[R]

Scope Increased >10% *

Over Budget >10%

Behind Schedule >10%

* Projected dollar value of change in scope in relation to the total approved project budget

138 out of 149 projects from the first quarter of 2017 came in on/under budget with just 30 of those being behind schedule. This report and the others like it point to our progress as a City. Only 3 out of 149 projects fall in the category of late and overbudget, which is a great step towards our city goal of 90% of projects on time and on budget, something I am confident we can achieve in light of our recent policy pushes.

TOGETHER WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Building a great city requires rigorous attention to detail, citizen buy-in, smart, efficient processes from top to bottom, and a willingness to think ambitiously. That is the Edmonton that I know we can be, and that is the Edmonton that we are moving towards.