Canadian Consulting Engineer

Strategic Infrastructure Fund: parameters in place but funds insufficient

The federal government has now put in place the parameters for the $2 billion Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund. Under this new program, the government is increasing its contribution to a maximum o...

October 1, 2002  Canadian Consulting Engineer

The federal government has now put in place the parameters for the $2 billion Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund. Under this new program, the government is increasing its contribution to a maximum of 50% of total eligible costs and is embracing a broader range of partnerships to fulfil regional priorities. As there are vast differences in the populations of Canada’s provinces and territories, a threshold formula for defining “large-scale” projects has also been established for the different regions of the country.

“The Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada (ACEC) welcomes the establishment of the parameters and especially the increase of the federal contribution to 50%,” said ACEC President, Mr. Claude Paul Boivin. “Given this country’s cumulative infrastructure deficit, however, what Canada really needs, and everyone seems to agree on this, is a long-term, well-funded national infrastructure program. The total amount that has been earmarked to date by the government is clearly insufficient to address in a significant way the rejuvenation of Canada’s aging infrastructure,” explained Mr. Boivin.

The new Strategic Infrastructure Fund complements Canada’s other infrastructure programs but differs in its orientation. Investments will be directed to projects of major national and regional significance, and will be made in areas that are vital to sustaining economic growth and supporting an enhanced quality of life for Canadians. The new program may invest in five categories of infrastructure that are vital to advancing Canada’s social and economic objectives: highway and railway infrastructure, local transportation infrastructure, tourism or urban development infrastructure, water or sewage infrastructure and broadband.

In Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories, where populations are under 750,000, total eligible project costs must be at least $10 million. In Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where populations range between 750,000 and 1.5 million, the threshold will be at least $25 million, and in Qubec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, where populations are over 1.5 million, the threshold will be at least $75 million of total costs. This will ensure that funded projects are large-scale and strategic within the context of the province or territory in which they are housed.

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“ACEC is pleased to see the inclusion of the railway infrastructure in the new Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund,” said Mr. Boivin. A modernized railway system in Canada will facilitate the movement of goods and people as well as enhance the productivity, economic efficiency and safety of Canada’s surface transportation system. The development of higher-speed rail will be good for Canadian businesses and travellers.

“Again, the government will need to make a long-term commitment if it wants to be successful in implementing a co-ordinated strategy to update its ailing rail system,” concluded the ACEC President, Mr. Boivin.

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