By Faye Lyons
Thursday, December 1, 2016 1:00 pm ·  0 Comments
The Oakville Chamber of Commerce recently co-hosted a Symposium with the Professional Engineers of Ontario (Oakville Chapter) on “Smart Infrastructure”. We brought together representatives from business, academia, government and leading industry experts to discuss one of the most critical issues facing Canada’s economy today, infrastructure.
Canada’s infrastructure gap is not a new problem however, it has gained political attention as Canadians have become cognizant of both the financial costs associated with this underinvestment coupled with their personal costs. The missed opportunities both economically and socially are being felt on a daily basis.
Case in point, the most recent Oakville Chamber Advocacy survey revealed that congestion continues to be an obstacle to success for businesses and that infrastructure priorities need to be transportation related.
Roads, bridges, highways, water systems, energy and communications are all services that are critical to our economic competitiveness. Canada’s current infrastructure deficit is estimated to be approximately $200 billion, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities claims that left unattended this deficit could potentially rise to as much as $2 trillion by 2065.
According to the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card (CIRC) almost 60% of Canada’s core public infrastructure is owned and maintained by municipal governments and the total value of core municipal infrastructure assets is estimated at $1.1 trillion dollars. While most of our infrastructure challenges are the responsibility of our local government, both the federal and provincial government have committed renewed investment to tackle our infrastructure needs. Successful distribution of this funding will be achieved by the co-ordination, communication and collaboration of all levels of government.
The Oakville Chamber welcomes both the federal and provincial government’s commitment of infrastructure funding; however, we must ensure that the infrastructure funds are allocated effectively and efficiently to the right types of projects for Oakville. It is vital that investments are made strategically into projects that support the long-term growth of our economy.
Many studies conducted share similar conclusions. Investment in public infrastructure contributes to growth in labour productivity. The largest occurring in construction, transportation and the wholesale/retail sectors.
Encourage government to adopt an outcomes-based approach to infrastructure funding instead of a project-based approach.
Moving into Phase Two of the federal government’s distribution of federal funds, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce will be strongly advocating on behalf of our members to ensure that investments in Oakville are appropriately funded on productivity-enhancing projects. We will be encouraging the government to adopt an outcomes-based approach to infrastructure funding instead of a project-based approach.
The Oakville Chamber of Commerce will encourage the government to find a balance between its strategic objectives and ensuring that eligibility criteria for Phase Two infrastructure programs are flexible enough to ensure that communities like Oakville can meet their diverse needs.
The need for a long term sustainable infrastructure plan will still be essential. The new infrastructure demands coupled with the maintenance and future rehabilitation will further strain our resources. This will only be compounded by further population growth.
Encourage government to expand the use of public, private partnerships (P3s) to include municipal projects.
The Oakville Chamber of Commerce will encourage the federal government to expand the use of public, private partnerships (P3s) while making it easier for smaller projects, like those at the municipal level, to attract private sector investment.
Canada is a global leader in the use of public, private partnerships. Locally we have seen the results of successful P3s through the construction of Oakville’s new hospital.
We will encourage the government to look for innovative and collaborative approaches to help ensure that private sector money and know-how can be directed to projects that benefit communities of all sizes.
On behalf of the Oakville Chamber members, we continue to advocate on this important issue to ensure that our local community benefits from strategic infrastructure projects to improve our economy and quality of life.
Bridges, Canadian Infrastructure Report Card, communications, Energy, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, highways, Oakville Chamber of Commerce, Professional Engineers of Ontario, Roads, Smart Infrastructure, water systems