Canadian Consulting Engineer

Cities need major investment in infrastructure, leading Canadian organizations state

Canadian cities need major investments in infrastructure if they are to carry the country forward in the 21st century and avoid the kind of decay that engulfed American cities 20 years ago. The import...

October 1, 2002  Canadian Consulting Engineer

Canadian cities need major investments in infrastructure if they are to carry the country forward in the 21st century and avoid the kind of decay that engulfed American cities 20 years ago. The importance of addressing this issue now has been demonstrated by several national organizations.

“A Choice Between Investing in Canada’s Cities or Disinvesting in Canada’s Future” is the title of the April, 2002 TD Bank Financial Group Special Report. The report concludes that city infrastructure needs replacing. It says, “another significant threat to the quality of life in Canada’s urban areas is the erosion of city infrastructure. Until recently, the relative youth of Canadian cities meant that the pressure on Canadian governments to re-invest in infrastructure was relatively modest compared to that faced by their U.S. and European counterparts. But, it is becoming evident to most Canadians that their cities are showing distinct signs of strain. Merely maintaining existing roads, bridges, transit systems and other types of infrastructure is not enough — modernization is also required.”

In its 2001 proposal, “A Better Quality of Life Through Sustainable Community Development: Priorities and Investment Plan,” the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) calls on the Government of Canada to increase its commitment to funding for water, waste diversion, landfill gas and energy infrastructure to reach $1.7 billion per year within five years. The proposal also calls for separate programs to invest in inter-modal, integrated transportation systems, brownfield development and affordable housing. FCM calls for the establishment of a well-funded permanent national infrastructure program that would create a national framework for continuous maintenance and rehabilitation.

The Interim Report of The Prime Minister’s Caucus Task Force on Urban Issues states: “Maintaining current systems and building new infrastructure is critical to sustaining the quality of life for all citizens as well as the day-to-day aspects of private companies. Sustainable infrastructure is the foundation for economic growth and development, and is one of the main components of any strategy to promote economic competitiveness.” The Government of Canada, the interim report says, must continue to recognize the financial difficulties of municipal governments in maintaining, replacing and constructing infrastructure. The report concludes that the Government of Canada must be involved in the process of ensuring that Canada’s physical infrastructure will have longevity and durability, and it recommends the establishment of a “long-term National Infrastructure Program that will build on current programs to provide stable, reliable funding (i.e. 15 years).”

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