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Infrastructure report card to provide accurate value and status of assets

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by Vince Versace

A national infrastructure report card that the Canadian Construction Association is leading the charge in creating will be fact-based without rhetoric, says one of its members.

A national infrastructure report card that the Canadian Construction Association is leading the charge in creating will be fact-based without rhetoric, says one of its members.

“The advocacy will be left to us,” said Chris McNally, chair of CCA’s civil infrastructure council. “We want to make as accurate and unassailable, as possible, a fact sheet of what the infrastructure is worth and what its condition is.”

The CCA has been working with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) and the Canadian Public Works Association (CPWA) in the developing the report card.

The CCA and the FCM have both contributed $30,000 to the $70,000 initiative.

The report card also aims to assess the cost of maintaining the infrastructure.

The CCA received an update on the report card’s development at its recent board meeting in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Even though infrastructure is currently front and centre for the federal government, municipal and industry officials want to ensure ongoing attention to the country’s roads, bridges, highways and sewers after the federal stimulus program ends.

Producing a “depoliticized” report that is not self-serving and with strong partners like FCM, CSCE and CPWA should deliver an essential ongoing reference point for industry, government and the general public, the CCA believes.

“We feel we have always been missing, the national, factual measurement of what the (infrastructure) asset is worth and what the (infrastructure) asset’s condition is,” said McNally.

“By doing that routinely, we can baseline it and show if it is going up or down.”

The U.S., United Kingdom and Australia have produced regular infrastructure report cards aimed at raising awareness among the public and elected officials.

The main barrier to the production of these reports in Canada is consistent data availability, noted the CCA.

The FCM has estimated that Canada’s municipal infrastructure deficit sits at about $123 billion, which has always been a best estimate.

This estimate includes $40.2 billion for community, recreational, cultural and social infrastructure, $31 billion for waste and wastewater systems, $22.8 billion for transit, $21.7 billion for transportation and $7.7 for solid waste management.

The CCA has stated in the past that the estimated $123 billion deficit doesn’t take into account the price tag for new systems to add capacity and expand systems.

The report card is expected to be unveiled in spring of 2011 and the CCA and the FCM hope to promote it at the upcoming National Infrastructure Summit hosted by the City of Regina, from Jan. 26 to 28, 2011.

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