By Geoff Wilkinson
Infrastructure Deficit: Working together to address the issue
By Geoff Wilkinson
Over the coming months, ORBA will be developing strategies to work with
municipalities on addressing their infrastructure deficits.
Over the coming months, ORBA will be developing strategies to work with municipalities on addressing their infrastructure deficits. We need to see more investment across Ontario’s communities on roads, bridges, highways and other transportation infrastructure projects.
Ontario’s municipalities own, and are responsible for, maintaining almost 50 per cent of Ontario’s public infrastructure including more than 15,000 bridges and large culverts, and more than 140,000km of road. This is more than double the provincial (12.4 per cent) and federal governments (9.2per cent) combined. Municipalities are currently facing an infrastructure deficit of over $60 billion, of which $28 billion accounts for the infrastructure gap for roads and bridges alone.
Transportation infrastructure is a critical public asset that affects people’s everyday lives and business competitiveness, while also playing a key role in long-term economic growth and development. Conversely, poorly maintained infrastructure delivers a lower quality of service, costs more to repair and replace and can increase risks to health and safety from potential failures. Traffic congestion has become an increasingly devastating issue, particularly in the Golden Horseshoe, where it causes upwards of $11 billion a year in lost economic productivity.
Traffic congestion has become the number one issue affecting economic growth and social prosperity in Ontario. Eliminating the staggering infrastructure deficit currently facing municipalities as well as expanding our existing transportation infrastructure will place municipalities and Ontario at a competitive advantage.
While we have our work cut out for us in strategizing around municipalities, we also are continuing our work with the MTO and CFAAST. As I have noted before, CFAAST is focused on improving the MTO’s procurement process to ensure fair, open and equitable policies. I look forward to writing soon regarding ORBA and the MTO’s resolution of CFAAST issues and the launch of the implementation process. Unfortunately we still have some hurdles to overcome, including contractors’ rights to unfettered access to arbitration or litigation through the removal of the litigation provision within the exclusion clause.
As we move into winter we are seeing some progress on our winter maintenance issues. We are working together with the MTO on the issues we addressed last winter as significant concerns of not only our winter maintenance contractors, but to capital construction contractors as well. With the roll out of performance specifications across capital construction projects we need to iron out the problems with the third generation winter maintenance contracts in order for these to be avoided within other contracts. Government and industry must work together in a partnership in order for our relationship to be successful. Again, ORBA is seeing progress in addressing our issues and are optimistic things are looking brighter for our partnership with the MTO.
Caldwell (Cal) J. Kerr was inducted posthumously into the Ontario Road Building Hall of Fame on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at the 88th Convention and Annual General Meeting of Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA).
Born in May of 1919, in the small town of Varney, Ontario, Cal Kerr began his career in his mid twenties as the owner of a small trucking company. In 1946, he took a position with General Supply Company, first as a field service representative, then moving into sales five years later, selling heavy construction equipment. As top salesman of Portec Pioneer crushers, Cal was known as the go to guy for information or machinery in the aggregate industry, a specialist and expert in crushing and screening equipment.
Officially retiring in 1985, Cal touched just about every ORBA member over the span of his 60-year career. Cal was active with ORBA, annually attending the convention. Always available to assist or advise, when the work was done, Cal’s familiar “let’s have a pull” motto came into play.
This column was originally published in the Fall 2014 edition of Road Builder magazine. It has been edited for publication in Rock to Road by Andrew Macklin.
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