TransEd selected for the Valley Line LRT, interVivos turns 9, changes at Startup Edmonton

I’m trying something new, where I share some thoughts on a few topical items in one post. Less than I’d write in a full post on each, but more than I’d include in Edmonton Notes. I’ll organize them here. Have feedback? Let me know!

TransEd Partners selected as Valley Line LRT partner

Today the City of Edmonton announced that TransEd Partners has been selected “to design, build, operate, maintain and finance stage one of the Valley Line LRT.” TransEd is a consortium comprised of: Fengate Capital Management, Bechtel, Ellis-Don, and Bombardier. Additionally, TransDev, ARUP, and IBI Group are described as “other key team members.” TransEd was selected after an 18 month procurement process “that saw comprehensive proposals from three international teams.”

Acting City Manager Linda Cochrane said the City, the LRT Governance Board, and the fairness monitor were all “quite comfortable” with the bids that were received, but felt the TransEd bid offered the best value for taxpayers. She repeated what Mayor Iveson and other City officials have highlighted in recent months, which is that the P3 model “by its nature transfers risk” to the partner. It’s pretty clear everyone is nervous because of what happened with the Metro Line and Thales. I have no doubt the issues that were encountered with the Metro Line will not be repeated with the Valley Line. But the reality of a $1.8 billion project, the single largest infrastructure project in Edmonton, is that something else will go wrong. What’s important is how the City will handle it.

And that’s the other key thing that Linda talked about today – communication. She noted that the City is still responsible for the project and is the entity to complain to if and when things go wrong. And she acknowledged that the City has room to improve when it comes to communication. But they are committed to being “as transparent as possible” throughout the entire project.

The next step is to finalize the contract with TransEd, which will involve a deeper dive into all of the financials. That is slated to be complete by February 2016 and if all goes well, construction will begin in the spring. The new 13-km line from Mill Woods to Downtown would be complete in 2020, with service starting by the end of that year.

interVivos turns 9

Last night I had the pleasure of serving as emcee for interVivos’ latest mentorship networking event. It’s the second time I have hosted the event, so I was thrilled to be asked back!

“The mentorship program helps achieve the mandate of interVivos by “bringing together young professionals and students with Edmonton’s business, political and community leaders to develop the relationships and the skills required by young people to assume positions of positive leadership within our community”.”

The mentorship program began in 2012 and has been running twice a year ever since. I’ve had the opportunity to be a mentor in the past as well, and I had a very positive experience. The way it works is interVivos brings together sixteen proteges and sixteen mentors, and they meet in a speed networking format. Proteges get four minutes to meet each mentor, and then at the end of the evening they all rank their top five preferred matches. interVivos makes the matches within a few weeks, and then each protege and mentor pairing is responsible for communicating at least three times over six months. You get out of it what you put into it, but the relationships that are formed can be quite meaningful.

interVivos Fall Mentorship Networking
Rene Ziorio & Zohreh Saher

interVivos launched back in November 2006 making it nine years old this month, which is quite an achievement! Zohreh and the team should be very proud of what they’ve built. In case you were wondering, interVivos is a Latin word that means “from one person to another”. You can follow interVivos on Facebook and on Twitter.

Changes at Startup Edmonton

The secret is out now: Ken Bautista resigned last month from Startup Edmonton and EEDC. He wrote:

“After eighteen months since our acquisition, I came to realize that it was the right time to leave Startup Edmonton in a place where it could continue to be a platform to grow our community beyond my leadership.”

There’s still a great team at Startup Edmonton, including co-founder Cam Linke and COO Tiffany Linke-Boyko, but Ken’s resignation is a big loss for EEDC. The energy, creativity, and vision he brought to the organization will surely be missed.

Frankly this news leaves me wondering about EEDC’s ongoing culture change. Ken is not the kind of person you want to lose, and if he was frustrated by bureaucracy or other internal impediments then that’s concerning. I’m sure we’ll learn more about how things are going at EEDC during the budget process over the next couple weeks (and potentially at the IMPACT Luncheon in January).

As for Ken, I have no doubt he’ll be positively impacting Edmonton with his next project (whatever that might be) in no time.

May 2014 Mini Event Recaps!

It has been a busy month, so I haven’t written as much as I’d have liked to. Here are a few small recaps of events I have been to over the last few weeks.

The Yeggies

On May 9, local content producers were celebrated in Edmonton at the second annual Edmonton New Media Awards, affectionately known as The Yeggies. I was thrilled to be a part of the organizing committee for this year and had fun helping to put on a successful show! It was great to see many familiar online faces in person to recognize the work of their peers.

2013 Yeggies

Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners! You can see more photos of the event here. Also check out Lincoln’s video recap here.

interVivos Spring Mentorship Program

I volunteered to be a mentor in the 2014 spring edition of the popular interVivos Mentorship Program. The pairing event took place on May 14. With a speed-dating format, each protege got to spend four minutes with each mentor. At the end of the event, everyone wrote down their top 5 choices. The interVivos folks have since paired us up, and each mentor and protege will meet at least three times over the course of the program.

I have emceed the last couple of pairing events, so it was interesting to be on the other side this time! It’s amazing how quickly four minutes goes by. It felt like you had just barely gotten through introductions before time was up and the protege was moving on to the next mentor!

I know I am not the most experienced mentor, but I have had the good fortune of learning from some incredible Edmontonians over the last few years, and I’m looking forward to paying that forward.

Host Edmonton

I was fortunate enough to receive a media pass for a session at Host Edmonton, which took place from May 22 through May 24 at the Shaw Conference Centre. I decided to attend the afternoon keynote on Friday called “Taking Risks and Setting the Table for the Future” with chef Marc Murphy.

Chef Marc Murphy

I didn’t know what to expect from the session – it turned out to be the story of how Marc got to where he is today. No slides or visuals, just Marc talking. He credited much of his success to having dyslexia, as it forced him to work hard and be willing to take risks. Another key message was, “you can’t be afraid of starting over and picking up the pieces.” Marc started over numerous times throughout his career, learning and growing along the way. As he was telling the story, I found myself wishing we had checked out one of his restaurants when were in New York! Next time.

This was Marc’s first time to Canada, and he seemed to be enjoying Edmonton when I asked him what he thought so far! I hope the other guests felt the same way and left Edmonton with a positive feeling.

I am still unclear about who exactly Host Edmonton was meant for: those in the hospitality industry, foodies, or both? Attendance certainly didn’t match the expectations I had for the event given the high quality marketing and branding. A tighter program and clearer messaging for next year’s event would both be positive changes. And possibly even some different price points. Great to see EEDC experimenting with some new approaches and initiatives, however!

What the Truck?!

On Saturday, May 24 we held our first What the Truck?! event of the season. It took place on 104 Street from 5-9pm and featured 12 trucks. I think it’s safe to say the event was a success – perhaps too successful, as the lineups were quite long that night! I myself spent nearly an hour in the line for S’WICH, but it was worth it.

What the Truck?! on 104 Street

We know the lineups were long, and while we’re working to have more trucks on hand for our next event, lines cannot be entirely avoided. On the plus side, it was great to see so many people chatting and enjoying the sense of community that comes with one of our events. I was also pleased to hear that downtown restaurants and businesses benefited greatly from the crowds we were able to attract into the area!

You can check out more of my photos from the event here (and more from Dave here). Save the date for our second event of the season: Friday, June 13 in Old Strathcona from 5-9pm!

RISE Awards

Last night I attended the 11th annual RISE Awards, courtesy of the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. The gala event took place at the Edmonton Expo Centre and featured a fancy stage setup by Production World (they seem to be at every event lately!). The program went quite long, but featured some great entertainment and an inspiring keynote by Zahra Al-Harazi. It was also fun to see former mayor Stephen Mandel enjoying himself up on stage!

Seven awards were handed out:

  • Oliver Kamau won the Community Leadership, Immigrant Award
  • Wildman Institute won the Community Leadership, Non-Immigrant Award
  • Linar Dahir Waliyi won the Youth Achievement Award
  • Erica Vela Namsechi won the Arts & Culture Award
  • Enbridge Pipelines Inc. won the Welcoming Workplace Award
  • All Weather Windows won the Workplace Innovation Award
  • Dr. Man-Joe Watt won the Lifetime Achievement Award

Congratulations to all!

Up Next…

Tonight, along with journalist, rapper, and cat-lover Omar Mouallem, I am hosting a poverty simulation with the United Way. I attended the first one in Edmonton back in November 2012 and found it highly educational, so I was thrilled to be asked by the United Way to encourage other young Edmontonians to participate. As you may know there is now a Mayor’s Task Force for the Elimination of Poverty in Edmonton, so I think this is a great time to be getting others involved.

This weekend I am attending the Good 100, “an annual two day gathering that brings together a diverse group of 100 Edmontonians involved in good work in their communities.” The event takes place at Rundle Park and sounds like it’s going to be an intense but rewarding couple of days. I’m looking forward to meeting some new people and to learning about some interesting local projects!

On Monday I’m doing a session at the 66th annual IPAC National Conference. IPAC is the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, and my session is entitled Sparking the City’s Creativity with Technology. I’m looking forward to sharing some of the interesting things happening here in Edmonton with public administrators from around the country!

There are so many other exciting events coming up, you can tell that we’re into the summer swing of things now.