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Is the Canadian government slamming the brakes on new road construction funding?

February 19, 2024  By By Rock To Road Staff

MISSISSAUGA — The Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (OSSGA) is raising concerns over recent comments by Canada’s environment minister.

On Feb. 12, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault stated the federal government would not invest in new road building projects. He made the comments via video while addressing a luncheon in Montreal organized by public transportation advocates. The comments were first reported by the Montreal Gazette.

Two days later, the minister clarified that he only meant the government would stop funding certain types of mega-projects.

However, his comments drew criticism from provincial premiers, opposition MPs and associations, such as OSSGA, which represents more than 260 sand, gravel and crushed stone producers and suppliers in Ontario.


“While the aggregate industry is committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, there is a consensus that climate mitigation strategies must be pragmatic and grounded in economic reality,” stated Rob Pierce, chair of OSSGA.

“It is important that potential solutions don’t disregard the complex interplay between infrastructure development, economic growth and environmental sustainability.”

In a statement, OSSGA noted Canada faces significant challenges in infrastructure development, which is compounded by an annual influx of nearly 500,000 immigrants. As well, OSSGA notes, Ontario has committed to building 1.5 million homes and those homes will require transportation infrastructure (including roads) otherwise the province faces increased pollution and a lack of productivity due to gridlock.

OSSGA states the Minister’s comments raise apprehensions about logistical operations, as 95 per cent of goods in Canada are transported by truck. According to the association, improving transportation corridors remains integral to sustaining a prosperous economy and ensuring goods reach consumers efficiently.

“In Ontario specifically, we need to link the massive investments in battery plants to support electric vehicles and the road network that supports public transit. We also need to invest in technology that reduces GHGs (greenhouse gases),” states Pierce.

OSSGA was not the only association concerned with the remarks.

In a statement from the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) addressing his comments, the national organization explained how infrastructure needs are tied directly to housing, and the level of home building that will be needed to deal with an acute housing crisis.

“The government is asking our industry to build 5.8 million new homes, but is overlooking the investment needed to support these homes and communities,” read the commentary.

According to a report by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), public investment needed per new housing unit is estimated to be $107,000 . This amounts to $620 billion in public funding needed for the infrastructure to support the additional housing growth, which is an additional $375 billion beyond the current planned budget.

“These new communities need new roads. People need to be connected to their jobs, their schools, and their hospitals,” stated CCA president Mary Van Buren. “A growing population has growing demands. We not only need the road networks to support their movement; we also need to shore up our trade infrastructure, which includes roads, bridges and highways.”

With Files from Onsite Magazine

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