Canada's Crumbling Intrastructure - The Big Non-Issue of this Election

It's no secret that Canada is running a massive infrastructure deficit.  Four years ago the Canadian Federation of Municipalities pegged the price tag for renewing aging bridges, roadways, transportation and sewage systems at $123 billion. 

Writing in the Globe and Mail today, Barrie McKenna does something I've been meaning to do for a while now:  add to that number the costs for major upgrades that need to be made to keep up with increasing demands for transit and sewage treatment facilities, as well as modernizing our outdated electricity grid.

All told, he estimates we are looking at $531.8 billion in work that needs to be done to keep our cities, and our economy, running the way we expect them to. Makes you wonder why this hasn't been on the election radar so far in Canada, and why the Conservatives economy stimulus spending didn't do a better job of targeting these areas.

Looking back to the 2008 elections, you can see that overlooking cities - especially among Conservatives - is nothing new.  A few excerpts after the jump, or read the full article here.

Here’s a number to ponder: $123-billion. That’s what the Canadian Federation of Municipalities estimated it would cost, four years ago, to renew aging municipal infrastructure. Roughly 60 per cent of the money is needed for transportation, water and sewage treatment.

That’s just part of the story. As the country grows and expands, new demands emerge, such as transit expansions and new sewage treatment capacity (cost: $115-billion). Now we’re at $238-billion and counting. And that’s just for municipal infrastructure. ...

And the electrical grid needs $293.8-billion in improvements, according to a Conference Board of Canada report.

The Conservative government’s $60-billion Economic Action Plan is all but gone, and the legacy is underwhelming....

In its eagerness to get the money out the door fast to “shovel-ready” projects, the money was sprinkled across the country on mainly small, local projects. The Action Plan website highlights transmission lines and waste-water projects. More typically, the money went to hockey rinks, park benches and planters. Small-town thinking applied to big-world problems.


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This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

Info on my consulting work, c.v. and current research focus is all here.

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