“Governments that want to build more sustainable road networks may need to change their administrative processes, shift the work culture of the public service, and even restructure the approval bodies made up of elected officials.”
Christina Bouchard MPA(M) Class of 2019
Christina Bouchard is a Transportation Planner and Project Manager for infrastructure engineering projects. Located in downtown Toronto, she specializes in the delivery of sustainable transportation projects. Her recent projects include transportation master planning, major capital implementation coordination, strategic policy design and infrastructure design for walking and cycling infrastructure. Following 10 years working as a public servant at Toronto City Hall, Christina now works with a variety of Canadian and international jurisdictions as a consultant. Following the completion of a Masters in Public Administration (Management) at Dalhousie, Christina will be pursuing PhD studies at the University of Ottawa. Her doctoral research will center around a comparative analysis of infrastructure delivery by Canadian municipalities.
CEGE Connection reached out to Christina for her insights on building sustainable transportation infrastructure.
What are the processes to construction of a road design?
As a manager of transportation infrastructure engineering projects, I have seen a lot of variability in how different jurisdictions are planning, designing and building their infrastructure. Some jurisdictions have been rapidly planning, approving and building networks of separated cycle tracks. These types of successes are great from both an environmental and public health perspective for the people living in those Cities. Unfortunately, some other jurisdictions struggle to install modest changes.
How would doing a comparative analysis of infrastructure projects in different Cities help?
No one has compared the political structures, government structures, government processes and stakeholder engagement that affect the implementation of Canada’s sustainable transportation infrastructure. Interviewing practitioners in Canada’s major Cities will help map best practices as well as the pain points that are causing projects to be installed very slowly or not at all.
The professionals that make up Canada’s transportation sector include traffic engineers, civil engineers and transportation planners. I have been fortunate to work with many capable professionals in both the public and private sectors. However, the successful implementation of transformative change goes beyond good planning or good engineering for individual projects.
Why is studying the implementation process that governments use important?
Wherever you go, everyone wants government to be efficient. Unfortunately, it is not always easy for bureaucracies to change their own structure and processes. Bureaucrats often use process and protocol as measurements of transparency and accountability. Studying implementation realities across multiple jurisdictions is a way to better understand how public value is being created.
If best practices are identified, what comes next?
Governments that want to build more sustainable road networks may need to change their administrative processes, shift the work culture of the public service, and even restructure the approval bodies made up of elected officials.
Did undertaking the Masters in Public Administration offered by Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Management influence your thinking about public sector management?
Yes, and there were many program areas that addressed problems I have witnessed in my professional career. Government structures, accounting practices, intergovernmental relations, risk assessment, information management and human resource management all play a role in the actual ability of a public service organization to address a shifting political mandate. It has been my experience that these aspects of program implementation are often inadequately addressed by advocates and reformers working in the Transportation sector.
When studying at Dalhousie, what was the blended program like?
Working all day and then doing schoolwork in the evening requires commitment, but a strength of the program is that you can tie it into your area of expertise. If you’re passionate about your work, Dalhousie’s blended program can help you learn without leaving your workplace. Continuing my work with clients allowed me to remain active and engaged with the industry I care deeply about.
Why do you want governments to succeed at building sustainable transportation infrastructure?
In Canada, there are over 10,000 people killed or seriously injured in traffic each year. Instances of serious property damage during climate change storms is increasing, and there is an obesity epidemic. Sustainable transportation infrastructure addresses all these issues simultaneously – and it’s fun! I have always been passionate about transportation sustainability. As the mother of an energetic child, the need to build infrastructure that makes walking and cycling safe for all ages and abilities has become even more immediate to me.
Editor’s Note: CEGE Connection is pleased to advise that Christina has graciously agreed to be a repeat contributor on CEGE Connection. We wish her the very best as she pursues her PhD studies at the University of Ottawa.