5 years ago Westmount embarked on an important initiative to invest in our infrastructure and catch up to where we need to be. This required both a heavy investment financially and in personnel in order to modernize our built infrastructure.
For the last two years, I have overseen over $30M in engineering projects and my hat goes off to our administration for their incredible hard work at keeping our projects on schedule and on budget – all the while maintaining an exceptional level of communication with residents and the community.
Every tax dollar is carefully allocated to these projects in order to maximize the efficiency. Unlike some of our neighbours, Westmount is highly intentional with our projects. Our infrastructure work is driven by the state of the water network below the road. In many places throughout the City, this water network is in a critical state. 2020 projects are updating water mains that date back to 1894. I have worked with our City engineers to establish a multi-year iterative plan that allows for us to adequately prepare, garnering community input from local residents, and going to tender early enough to get the best pricing on our projects.
With the City still in catch-up mode, 2020 featured the most ambitious undertaking. When the government mandated a stop to construction, our engineering team wasted no time building contingency plans that take into account a range of scenarios and risks. We adjusted our budget to best forecast given extenuating circumstances – we adapted quickly and efficiently. With so much still uncertain, we are being cautious, yet intelligent, with our plans.
As we analyzed the situation it became clear that, given the shelter-in-place reality for most residents, there will be increased inconvenience on residents who’s streets are impacted by projects. We are aware that this is not ideal. The City has committed to doing our best to minimize the impact on residents that will be disrupted.
We all must do our part. Having recently lived through a two year reconstruction project, I am intimately aware of the challenges that it presents. It will not be easy, but given the current circumstances, nothing is. We are all being forced to make a range of sacrifices that put the collective ahead of the individual. These projects must happen, and there is never a “best time” to inconvenience anyone, but I am confident that the City administration will do everything they can to go above and beyond for our residents.
Philip A. Cutler
City Councillor – District 2
Commissioner of Infrastructure and Innovation