February 10, 2014

$1.3 billion in strategic infrastructure funding in 2014 budget applauded by CCA

DCN staff writer


Since the federal Economic Action Plan 2014 was expected to be a "stay the course" budget, the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) was surprised and pleased to see an additional $1.3 billion for additional strategic investments in public infrastructure and transportation services.

“It reinforces how infrastructure investment is so important to Canada’s future economic prosperity,” said CCA president Michael Atkinson.

The Road to Balance: Creating Jobs and Opportunities, which was tabled by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on Feb. 11, proposes $1.3 billion over two years, on a cash basis, to support additional strategic investments in public infrastructure and transportation services.

The budget allocated $470 million to support necessary procurement and project delivery activities for a new Windsor-Detroit International Crossing, which will be undertaken as a public-private partnership (P3).

“Canada has always been an exporting nation. Our investment in the new Windsor-Detroit crossing means Canadian goods will get to market faster, allowing businesses to grow, expand trade and help to secure a prosperous future,” said Flaherty in his budget speech in the House of Commons, on Feb. 11.

The budget allocated $165 million to advance the construction of a new bridge over the St. Lawrence River in Montreal, which will replace the current Champlain Bridge. This funding will go toward the procurement and project delivery activities for the bridge. These activities will include engineering studies, property acquisition and utility relocation and project management functions. The procurement process to select a private sector concessionaire will be launched in 2014.

The government committed to building the new bridge by 2018.

The bridge will be delivered through a P3. Tolls will be instituted when it opens to traffic to recover the cost of construction and pay for operating and maintenance costs going forward.

Federal bridges in the Greater Montreal area will also receive $378 million to advance their repair and maintenance. These bridges include the Jacques Cartier and Champlain bridges, the Bonaventure Expressway, the Melochville Tunnel and the Champlain Bridge Ice Control Structure.

Maritime ferry services will receive $58 million over two years to support the continued operation of the Digby, Nova Scotia–Saint John, New Brunswick, Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island–Caribou, Nova Scotia, and Îles de la Madeleine, Quebec–Souris, Prince Edward Island ferry routes.

The budget also allocated $40 million to accelerate repair and maintenance work at small craft harbours across the country and $33 million to support the divestiture of regional ports to local interests and the continued operation and maintenance of federally owned ports.

“It is all important strategic public infrastructure. Canada is a trading nation after all and very dependent on its export capabilities so again something that’s very important for Canada’s future economic prosperity,” said Atkinson.

The budget also earmarked $391.5 million over five years, on a cash basis, to the Parks Canada Agency to make improvements to highways, bridges and dams located in the country’s national parks and along its canals.

The budget reiterated PPP Canada’s efforts to share best practices and promote the greater adoption of the P3 model in Canada. It also highlighted the government’s efforts in providing increased support to help municipalities pursue long-term planning, including asset management plans, through the Gas Tax Fund.

This year’s budget did not release any new details regarding the $53-billion Building Canada plan, which is expected to begin on April 1. An announcement is to take place on Feb. 13.

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