By Becky Benoit
As anyone who has sat fuming in the midst of Fort McMurray’s legendary gridlock traffic can attest to, the region has some unique infrastructure challenges when it comes to transportation. Perhaps no one is more familiar with these challenges than Joel Trudell. As director of organizational design with DiversifiedTransportation, he is tasked with finding the many transportation-related headaches, issues that he sees in a different capacity as a community volunteer, serving as a member of Fort McMurray Tourism’s executive committee as well as Director of Transportation for the 2013 Canadian Junior Curling Championships, the 2015 Canadian Ringette Championships, and the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games.
“In my time with Diversified, there has been significant change to traffic patterns and flow brought on by the construction and infrastructure expansion that is underway,” he says, adding that these challenges have required unique solutions. “It’s an exciting time to see transportation systems being streamlined and become as efficient as possible,” he adds. “It’s hoped that through this initiative, we can streamline the transportation of oilsands workers to make the service world-class in every way and assist in dispelling the image of traffic in Fort McMurray as being negative.”
The urge to change Fort McMurray’s sketchy reputation is, in part, what inspired Trudell to volunteer his time as a board member for so many organizations.
“The RMWB has so many great things to talk about that most people never hear or take the time to see. It makes it easy to promote and spread positive information and viewpoints,” he says. “Fort McMurray’sopenness as a community has allowed me to step in and contribute where I can. This is a ‘can-do’ town and if you have a desire to help out, you’ll be welcomed with open arms.”
When Trudell thinks back to his first impressions of Fort McMurray, his memories are tinged with an excitement which has stayed with him over the years. “I had been offered a quick tour of town and the sites, so at 4:30 am, I was picked up and driven north. All I remember is being half-asleep, a passenger in a truck heading north, and then seeing this big yellow glow of Suncor,” he recalls. “Not knowing what it was, it was rather exciting and a moment I’ll never forget. It was right then and there I knew in my heart I’d be living andworking in Fort McMurray some day. It took me few years to get here but the journey was well worth it.”
It has been quite a journey for Trudell, one that has included such memorable events as building the transportation system in Whistler for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. He says Fort McMurray offers him the perfect environment, both challenging and rewarding.
“I’m happy to be here contributing, learning and growing both personally and professionally,” he says. “As long as I’m in a challenging environment, I’m a happy camper”