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Construction associations support replacing Building Canada plan

Patricia Williams

Associations representing Canada’s construction and consulting engineering industries have welcomed the federal government’s announcement of a strategy to develop a successor program for the current Building Canada plan.

Associations representing Canada's construction and consulting engineering industries have welcomed the federal government's announcement of a strategy to develop a successor program for the current Building Canada plan.

Canadian Construction Association (CCA) president Michael Atkinson said last week’s announcement is an important first step in the development of a long-term national infrastructure plan.

“This will ensure that there will be no federal funding gaps when the existing Building Canada plan expires in March of 2014,” he said.

Infrastructure Canada announced the launch of a formal engagement process that will bring together the Government of Canada, provinces, territories, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and others to develop a new long-term plan for public infrastructure, beyond the expiry of the Building Canada plan.

“Completing the economic recovery remains our government’s top priority,” said Denis Lebel, minister of transport, infrastructure and communities.

“Our new plan will help identify Canada’s infrastructure priorities to meet the needs of Canadians and build a more prosperous, competitive, and sustainable economy.”

The announcement was also applauded by the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada. (ACEC)

“We believe that infrastructure is an investment — not an expense,” said ACEC president John Gamble.

“The approach put forward by the government will provide a strong foundation for a long-term plan that can build upon the success of the Building Canada Fund.”

The Building Canada Fund was established under the 2007 Building Canada plan to fund projects from 2007 to 2014.

Infrastructure Canada said the engagement process will take place in three phases over the next year.

First, the Government of Canada will work together with its partners to take stock of recent accomplishments and their impacts and examine the results of the significant investments by all levels of government.

“The second phase will be working with our partners and leading experts to collaborate on research and analysis that will inform and guide the long-term infrastructure plan,” the department said.

“This important work will lay the foundation for the third phase that will include a series of in-depth discussions with partners to confirm the principles and priorities of the plan. The result: an effective, sustainable, long-term infrastructure plan for Canadians.”

In a press release, the CCA said its members have long advocated for a federal leadership role in the development of a long-term national plan for the management and renewal of Canada’s aging infrastructure. The introduction of the Building Canada plan was a concerted effort on the part of all governments to do so, and was welcomed by the Canadian construction industry.

Since that time, the CCA has been pleased with the federal government commitment to consult with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, as well as industry stakeholders.

“(The) announcement reconfirms this government’s intent to remain a long-term funding partner in the development and management of infrastructure across Canada,” Atkinson said.

For its part, ACEC said the plan put forward by Lebel is consistent with its recent position paper on long-term infrastructure investment.

ACEC’s recommendations have received support from MPs on all sides of the house and from other stakeholders.

“The initial steps announced today will take stock of what the government and its partners have accomplished to date, identify knowledge gaps and priorities to be addressed, and discuss with partners and stakeholders the broad principles and orientation of a long-term plan,” the association said.

Infrastructure Canada said that as the Government of Canada develops this new plan, it will continue to deliver significant infrastructure investments through the $33 billion Building Canada plan.

It has also tabled legislation to make the $2 billion Gas Tax Fund permanent, providing stable and predictable funding for municipalities to help support their local infrastructure priorities.

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