July 16, 2012
Federal infrastructure roundtable discussions important: CCA
The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) says engaging provinces and municipalities will be valuable in creating a stronger national public infrastructure program.
“We’re hopeful that engaging the provinces and engaging municipalities<0x2026> will produce the results that we need to help continue to generate a stronger and more prosperous economy and meet the needs that we anticipate the economy is going to have of our industry for the next decade,” said Bill Ferreira, CCA director of government relations and public affairs.
Transport, Infrastructure and Communities minister Denis Lebel recently launched the roundtable discussions, which will move around the country throughout the summer.
The discussions will focus on broad directions and principles for a new long-term infrastructure plan for Canada that will extend beyond the 2014 expiration of the current Building Canada infrastructure plan.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that Canadians benefit from world-class infrastructure. Our plan will leverage funding from all governments and the private sector, to ensure affordability and sustainability over the long-term,” said Lebel in a release.
These discussions will engage representatives from the provinces and territories, municipalities through municipal associations, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), and other key stakeholder groups.
The CCA will not be involved with the regional roundtables, but expects to be consulted at some point in the process.
The CCA has identified three major points which it says are critical in the development of a long-term infrastructure plan.
First, the current state of infrastructure needs to be identified, said Ferreira.
Secondly, it’s important to address the most critical priorities.
“Government really should be focused on those priorities and those infrastructure projects that are going to generate the most economic spinoffs,” he said, citing examples like road projects, rail projects, expansion of border facilities and new bridges.
Lastly, it’s important to have long-term funding so industry can plan.
Ferreira said when there is short-term funding, the industry ramps up just as the program winds down, which can drive up costs due to the scarcity of labour.
“What we’d like is a long-term plan that will give the industry and other stakeholders the kind of consistency and predictability that they need to ensure that they can meet the demands of the program,” he said.
The $33 billion Building Canada Plan, which began in 2007, was the country’s first long-term plan for public infrastructure.
The FCM said it’s time to start fixing Canada’s broken system.
The federation notes that Canada’s system is broken, as local governments build and repair over half of all public infrastructure, while collecting an average of eight cents of every tax dollar.
“Canada is at a tipping point: either we continue moving forward with the job of rebuilding our municipal infrastructure or we will fall behind as crumbling infrastructure costs our economy jobs and investment,” said FCM president Karen Leibovici in a release.
“With close to $2 billion in federal-municipal funding set to expire in 2014, federal, provincial and territorial governments must protect and build on recent investments in municipal infrastructure.”
Michael Atkinson, CCA president, is one of three vice-chairs sitting on the FCM’s Municipal Infrastructure Forum (MIF), which aims to create a consensus about what the future program should look like before they present to the federal government.
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