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Consulting engineers call for a national infrastructure strategy

0 59 Associations

by Patricia Williams

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada (ACEC) has called on Ottawa to begin work immediately on development of a national, long-term infrastructure investment strategy.

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada (ACEC) has called on Ottawa to begin work immediately on development of a national, long-term infrastructure investment strategy.

The association told the Commons finance committee that the resulting plan could be executed in 2014 once the federal budget has been balanced and as the Building Canada Fund expires.

Such a move would allow future investments to have the most meaningful impact on the country’s infrastructure deficit, said the association, which represents about 500 independent consulting engineering companies across the country.

“ACEC hopes that the federal government and the parliament of Canada will seize this opportunity to promote a sustained economic recovery, create quality sustainable jobs and contribute to future balanced budgets,” it said.

In its four-page submission, the association applauded the government’s recognition of the importance of public infrastructure in Canada’s quality of life and economic well-being.

It also commended Canada’s political parties for their commitment during the recent election to work with all levels of government and the infrastructure stakeholder community to develop a long-term investment strategy.

The association said it is cognizant of the spending and tax constraints within which the federal government currently operates.

But, it suggested that the time period between 2011 and 2014 could be wisely spent by prioritizing the country’s infrastructure needs and developing a plan for future investments.

While all three levels of government should play a role in development and implementation of such a strategy, the association said the federal government must assume a leadership role to safeguard the interests of Canadians.

“Stakeholder participation will be an integral part of this process as well as parliamentary oversight of the proposed strategy,” it said.

The association proposed a three-stage approach, beginning with creation of a stakeholder working group to provide the necessary expertise.

One possible model would be the national roundtable on the economy and the environment.

Once established, the working group would provide input and recommendations to the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in development of a strategy in concert with stakeholders and other levels of government.

The plan ultimately would be presented for consideration, amendment and approval to a Commons standing committee, possibly finance or transport, infrastructure and communities.

In an interview, ACEC president John Gamble, said that the association believes the time is right to begin work on development of a national strategy.

The association is optimistic that the government is on track to balance the budget by 2014.

“This is a great opportunity for us and the other stakeholders to work with the government to develop a plan that can build on the lessons, both good and bad, from previous investments over many decades and one that takes a long-term, holistic view,” he said.

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