Halton Region is hiring two construction ambassadors to act as a point of contact between the project team and the public during major regional infrastructure projects.
Part of the public works team, the ambassadors will be responsible for dealing with regional road, water and wastewater construction projects. Halton, located in southern Ontario, plans to invest almost $4 billion in infrastructure over the next 10 years. The two, full-time positions, which were approved in the region’s 2019 budget, are expected to be filled shortly.
“It’s not a new concept it’s something that has been applied in other municipalities in one form or another,” explained Marek Braczek, director, engineering and construction, Halton Region.
“It’s also been done by the consulting industry where they provide an individual on a project by project basis… Often with larger projects, the connection between the actual project team or the contractors and the public that is being affected is somehow lost or miscommunicated, so having an individual like an ambassador that can liaison between the public and help articulate the improvements and take in the inquiries and make sure it gets to the right people both on the contractor and municipal side of things is something we wanted to employ.”
Halton Region is focused on improving the customer experience and public engagement, said Braczek when asked how the position came about.
“We are always welcoming public feedback and council feedback and one of the things we’ve been hearing about is the impacts of construction,” explained Braczek.
“We always look at how we can improve that experience and look at how we can make the experience of construction a little bit less of a nuisance to the public. So, from those discussions and consulting our private partners, we determined that having a position like a construction ambassador would help facilitate a lot of that.”
Responsibilities of the role include assisting in developing, engaging and disseminating project related information to customers and stakeholders using different strategies and channels; liaising with key project stakeholders, the public and the project team on issues related to construction; and responding to and documenting all customer inquiries and complaints.
A big portion of that role will also be to support internal project managers and ensuring consistent timelines
— Marek Braczek
According to the job posting, ambassadors will also perform regular site visits and brings forward issues, such as noise, traffic management, parking, dust control, debris disposal, construction hours, truck routing and equipment storage and other issues that may arise throughout the project. The individual will also be required to report back to staff on the impacts of construction during the project.
“The skills for the construction ambassador are obviously someone that has excellent inter personal skills, someone that can be a liaison between the public and the technical staff and any employee or elected officials and can maintain strong relationships and composure when dealing with customer demands,” said Braczek.
“Communication is something in high demand for this position both the verbal and written. It’s preferable that the individuals have some great analytical skills, time management and an asset would also be to have a good understanding of general project management principles and practices.”
“A big portion of that role will also be to support internal project managers and ensuring consistent timelines and completeness of all the project related information across all channels — websites, online maps, bid notices,” he added.
The ambassadors are expected to start working on regional projects this summer and fall such as Trafalgar Road Improvements, the William Halton Parkway extension and Britannia Road Corridor Improvements.
“Where the projects are large scale and large impact that is where we are hoping to deploy the ambassadors,” said Braczek.
The new positions are part of the Building a Better Halton program which includes a number of initiatives such as an updated construction project webpages and an online interactive map to find more detailed information about any regional project; a subscription to email or mail notices on project updates and disruptions; and potential discussions with field staff.