Like most countries around the world, Canada has a significant infrastructure deficit. Hospitals, highways, bridges, airports, ports, terminals and community infrastructure all suffer from a lack of maintenance, upgrades, and development. This collective, national gap is estimated to be as high as $570 billion. Although the exact scale of the challenge may be up for debate, the fact remains serious investment is needed in Canadian infrastructure.
And, governments are stepping up to the plate. At all levels in Canada, governments have prioritized infrastructure spending and multi-year plans are in place and moving forward. Together they aim to make cities more livable, to provide economic opportunities for remote communities, to access natural resources, to enable trade, and ultimately to make Canada more competitive, more connected, more economically integrated on the international stage.
Canada is leading the way on infrastructure. Unprecedented levels of investment are promised and we are seeing an ambitious and growing list of projects in the pipeline.
But how can we invest smartly to ensure that the promised funds have the biggest possible impact? How do we prepare for a future of technological and environmental disruption?
To answer these questions, we need to look at the approach Canada is taking to prioritizing, planning, purchasing, constructing, maintaining, and operating infrastructure.
Small changes in what and how we consider these issues can potentially have very large impacts and provide course corrections. New technologies can provide modest solutions and improvements, or be totally game changing in approach. The spectrum is broad. Clearly we need to take a step back and totally reconsider the way we have undertaken infrastructure development to date. There are numerous examples of where we are doing things well, but these must provide lessons to develop approaches elsewhere – in other projects, contexts, and jurisdictions.
If we spend time looking at how we do things and make smart changes; these substantial investments have the potential to transform Canada.