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Western Canada’s roadbuilders join advocacy on national, trade infrastructure needs


May 21, 2021
By The Manitoba Heavy Construction Association (MHCA)

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Alberta’s AB-40 S crossing the Athabasca River. Photo by Andrew Snook/Rock to Road.

The Western Canada Roadbuilders & Heavy Construction Association (WCR&HCA) will work with national and regional industry and business partners to send a message to Ottawa on the need to invest long-term in infrastructure, particularly trade transportation corridors in the West.

That strategy will include endorsing the Canadian Construction Association’s submission to the federal government’s proposed National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA). Comments and recommendations on the NIA plan are to be sent by June 30, 2021.

At a May 19 meeting of the WCR&HCA, the Board heard from the CCA Chair Ray Bassett and Mary van Buren, CCA President, about its process for consulting the industry on the NIA submission. All local construction association members have had discussions and gave feedback for the CCA submission.

“The infrastructure assessment submission is critical to bring the message home about the condition of Canada’s trade-enabling infrastructure, and to underscore the fact that Western Canada, as the natural portal to Asia and beyond, is indispensable to the country’s trade profile,” said WCR&HCA President Chris Lorenc. “But we need a long-term, significant investment plan to ensure that the West, and by extension the country, can make the most of the trade opportunities before us now and in the years to come.”

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The four Prairie province members of the WCR&HCA agreed to engage with partner and business organizations in their respective jurisdictions, to share the messages about the investment needs, in order to amplify the call for Ottawa’s attention in NIA submissions.

Further, the WCR&HCA Board heard an update from Carlo Dade and John Law on behalf of the Canada West Foundation on its report regarding the return on investment the West, and Canada, can realize from strategic, sustained investment in the country’s trade gateways and corridors. The report, expected out in late summer, will show the voice to each region and jurisdiction from such an investment strategy.

The WCR&HCA will be consulted when the draft is ready, for comment prior to the finalization of the report. It is intended for wide distribution, with the help of groups such as the CCA, Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of Canada and others.

“This report will make the case that Canada must see the value of investment in trade corridors, gateways, hubs and multi-modal transportation assets in order to ensure that our country gets ready to compete, and to diversify its trade partners,” Lorenc said.

Both the NIA submission and the CWF report will illustrate that infrastructure investment – because of its high-value return to GDP – is foundational for Canada to meet its goals for social and environmental progress, he noted.

“We need strong quality-of-life programs, and we need to “green” our economy, but those goals can only be reached through ensuring our economy spins off the revenues to support them,” he said. “And trade supports 65% of Canada’s economy.”

The WCR&HCA Board also decided to begin the strategic planning for a convention, likely to be biennial and with the first targeted for 2024. A steering committee led by the Chair, joined by the Vice-Chair and COOs, was established. It will submit all recommendations to the Board for its approval.