Communicating shouldn’t be this difficult

Elizabeth MacDonald
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It’s interesting (!!) that the Department of Transportation and Works weren’t able to notify people of the Placentia area about impending closures to the Sir Ambrose Shea lift bridge that were to begin Nov. 28 until Nov. 26. That’s when the department issued a press release stating the bridge would be closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. from Nov. 28 to Dec. 8.

Two full days notice, right before the Christmas holiday season. Many people would say that’s pretty short notice.

That information caused a bit of a stir in and around the Placentia area, especially from businesses that rely on late night sales to boost their bottom line, particularly during the holiday season. Some business owners were concerned about losing business as the bridge would be closed at 10 p.m.

Others were concerned about having to drive around the Southeast/Argentia Access gravel road, which people feared was in a bad state, through rain, fog and possibly snow.

Certainly, eleven days of closures to the bridge at night is not so bad. It could have been worse, and some would argue it’s better to bite the bullet and get the job done rather than drag it out over months.

But, if the department could have given people more than two days notice this work was scheduled, even if it was one of the worst times of the year for them to choose, people could have accommodated the changes much better. They could have changed schedules for staff, booked earlier Christmas parties and the like and generally tried to adapt better for the eleven days of construction.

But, as we now know, that didn’t happen, and business owners and employees who have to cross the bridge are left scrambling at a time of year when stress is already high for many.

And it didn’t end there.

The day of the first planned closure, Nov. 28, information was going around the area that there would be some changes to the times of the closures, that the contractor agreed to not be at the bridge for the second weekend that would adversely affect local businesses. Some change was happening.

Later that same day, another rumour began making the rounds, that there would only be one day of closure, Nov. 29, and until further notice, there would be no further closures.

Now no one knows what’s happening. As of the time of our deadline, there was no further notification from the Department of Transportation and Works, although a request was made for further information and clarification on the bridge’s pending closures.

Simply put, it’s just not good enough communications from a government department that has a dedicated communications department.

More needs to be done about ensuring people have plenty of time to work with any changes to their routines, especially during the holiday season, and especially after this summer of delays and long lines during one of Placentia’s busiest summers ever, our 350th celebration.

Elizabeth MacDonald, Editor, The Charter

Organizations: Department of Transportation and Works

Geographic location: Placentia

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