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Ontario launches unsolicited infrastructure proposals framework


Ontario’s government has launched a framework for receiving and evaluating infrastructure proposals from the private sector. A new online portal will accept unsolicited proposals (USPs) that were not requested through an existing procurement.

The framework marks the first-ever formal process for submitting USPs to the Ontario government. The goal is to consistently and fairly consider private-sector ideas with the potential to improve public infrastructure and related services.

“It provides a clear path for industry to share proposals we might otherwise not have developed on our own,” explains Laurie Scott, the province’s minister of infrastructure. “We must acknowledge government doesn’t always have all the answers. Our USP framework will ensure we are listening to the people and businesses that build and operate infrastructure in Ontario, to find the best ideas and make them a reality.”

“These types of programs have been successfully used in other jurisdictions to accelerate the delivery of important new infrastructure by fostering greater creativity in the market,” says Shariq Alvi, managing director of global infrastructure and power for CIBC Capital Markets.

“The engineering sector is involved with infrastructure projects around the world and has ideas for incorporating more innovative approaches,” says Andy Manahan, executive director of the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO). “These ideas cannot be effectively generated through traditional procurement processes. Encouraging unsolicited bids will have significant, positive implications.”

Ontario’s program is reportedly open for all infrastructure proposals, including those for transit lines and stations, highways, health-care facilities, housing, energy generation and storage projects and ‘digital infrastructure’ like broadband and cellular network expansions. The government says it will focus on those that align with its own priorities, provide the greatest benefits to Ontarians, are technically and commercially feasible and provide the greatest value for any investment of public funding.

“The proposed process for Ontario encourages beneficial public outcomes in a clear and transparent manner,” says Michael Schatz, global managing director of infrastructure for Hatch. “We congratulate Minister Laurie Scott and the Ontario government on this important step.”