Collaboration is essential and rewarding says reader

To the Editor: (CAO and Council)

For over two years now, there has been ongoing tension between Saugeen Shores Council and Administration, and members of the public regarding development at the Port Elgin beach. Lots of energy is being spent pushing back against each other with no clear resolution of ongoing issues. As a municipality, it is time for us all to put this adversarial approach behind us and look at more effective ways to achieve success with this project.

After a career spent doing complex problem solving, I have to say that the best phrase I ever heard was, “The leading cause of project failure is inadequate stakeholder involvement.” The Port Elgin beach development project management team (CAO, Council and engaged contractors) can vastly increase the beach development success (both functional and economic) by changing their approach to stakeholder involvement.

I can understand that in the face of strongly worded comments from the public, the project management team can find it challenging to accept that stakeholders add more value than burden. However, Community Stakeholders are free help and their continuous engagement as the project develops ensures project success and minimizes schedule and economic losses. Many Stakeholders have high levels of skill and can also be the best source of requirements that are not yet well identified.

Some project requirements don’t get written down because they are so obvious. As an example, having a decent area to walk and drive between the promenade and any new development is clearly a requirement that has not been met with the current proposed layout. Our CAO and council will get a LOT of public support if the project incorporates a collaborative stakeholder review process with all comments being dispositioned through comparison to the requirements – including the waterfront master plan.

For just one description of good stakeholder involvement/engagement one can look at…/ titled “The Importance of Stakeholders in Project Management Success”. It’s a brief and clear illustration of how collaboration is essential and rewarding.

The beach and harbour users are the beachfront development’s most important Stakeholders and must be actively involved for the project to be successful.

Bob Burns
Port Elgin