Canada addressing issues of aging infrastructure with $16 billion in recent stimulus funding

Infrastructure spending requirements at a global level could reach US$50 trillion over the next 25 years

MONTREAL, June 20, 2011 /CNW/ - Canada is joining the ranks of countries around the world that are pumping funding into infrastructure to support future growth in a competitive global market, and create jobs in the short term, Ernst & Young says in a new report coproduced by Urban Land Institute. Using $16 billion in recent stimulus funding, Canada is making headway in addressing issues of aging urban infrastructure.

"Confronting aging infrastructure is essential for of our Canadian urban areas to be able to compete globally," explains Daniel Roth, Ernst & Young Infrastructures Services Leader based in Quebec. "Countries that aggressively pursue the infrastructure agenda are not only preparing to accommodate growing populations in urban environments. They're bolstering their economies, stimulating growth, and working to ensure their long-term competitiveness on the global stage."

The study, Infrastructure 2011: A Strategic Priority, predicts the cost of meeting global infrastructure requirements over the next 25 years could reach US$50 trillion. The report also emphasizes the challenges cities face in providing adequate transport and other infrastructure services for residents, workers and businesses.

The report identifies the five other countries who lead in infrastructure investments:

  • China is investing over US$1 trillion over five years in an unprecedented 10,000-mile high-speed rail network, a nationwide toll highway system, state-of-the-art airports and sea ports.
  • India will double its infrastructure spend to US$1 trillion, or about nine percent of its gross domestic product, to nurture aspirations for global economic leadership.
  • Brazil is kicking into high gear with a US$900 billion multi-year infrastructure plan, including a high-speed rail line, new power plants, hydroelectric dams and port construction.
  • Australia is investing to help set national priorities, identify regulatory reforms and set guidelines for attracting more private capital.
  • The UK, despite its severe austerity budget, is allocating US$326 billion to its five-year national plan.

"Many governments around the world rank infrastructure policy among their greatest concerns," explains Roth. "They formulate national plans, execute on long-term strategies, protect budgets from cutbacks in difficult fiscal times, and, in some cases, accelerate spending. These nations see modernization of infrastructure as critical to future economic competitiveness and/or crucial to accommodating expanding populations in urbanizing environments."

There are ways to make real progress in a limited funding context. The report suggests the following approaches:

  • Focus attention first on critical repairs and upgrades.
  • Develop a national infrastructure strategy, funding merit-based projects that support the country's overall economic priorities.
  • Concentrate spending on the nation's metropolitan areas and global gateways.
  • Provide greater long-term certainty for national and state/provincial funding to support planning for capital projects.
  • Institute government-sponsored infrastructure banks to support public and private project financing.
  • Phase in user fees to help fund infrastructure renewal and maintenance on a continuing basis.

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