Industry associations and businesses enthusiastic with Liberal infrastructure spending plans

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Canadian Design and

Construction Report staff writer

Several industry associations and businesses have expressed enthusi-asm for the federal government’s planned multi-billion (and multi-year) infrastructure investment program.

Here are some of the comments:

Canadian Construction Association (CCA)

CCA president Michael Atkinson says in published interview: “The fact they (the Liberals) are a majority gov-ernment gives them some time to put in place the people they want and get on with the job. If it had been a minor-ity situation, especially if it had been a slim minority situation, governments tend to go into re-election mode rather than sticking with their plat-forms. (The Liberals have a solid ma-jority with 184 seats in the House of Commons.)

“It gives us a little more certainty that we’re going to see something rolled out,” he said. “Frankly, certainly the infrastructure programs are very important because I think it allows other levels of government to plan.”

Association of Consulting Engineering Companies Canada (ACEC)

“Infrastructure is an investment in social, economic and environmental quality of life,” said ACEC president John Gamble. “We need to both ex-pand and renew our infrastructure. In-frastructure is what enables our economic activity, it is what connects and grows our communities,” he said in a published report.

“We are not just throwing money at the issue,” Gamble said. Contractors, investors and consulting engineers are “all looking for long-term pre-dictability so that we can make our re-spective investments in our capacities to deliver infrastructure.”

Cement Association of Canada (CAC)

The CAC says it is pleased that the Liberal Party has committed to na-tional leadership on climate change and to joining with the provinces and territories to put a price on carbon and reduce carbon pollution.

The Liberals have committed to a $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Trust that will fund projects to help reduce carbon emissions and, appropriately, help place municipalities at the fore-front of renewed investment in green and more prosperous communities, the CAC said in a news release. “As these and other infrastructure invest-ments are made, the CAC urges the new government to make life cycle as-sessment a core tool for decision making as they seek the greatest eco-nomic, environmental and social value from investments in our built environ-ment,” said Michael McSweeney, the CAC’s president and CEO.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

The RICS says its surveys indicate that infrastructure projects could help drive the growth of Canadian con-struction workloads over the next 12 months. And the recent election re-sults “appear to make this even more likely, longer and stronger, based on the polling results and reaction from respondents,” it says. Canadian con-struction professionals participating in RICS’ quarter three 2015 survey (con-ducted before the election) had pre-dicted their total workloads would increase about 2.87 per cent over the coming year, with the infrastructure section foreseen as the driver of growth.

Given the massive Liberal infra-structure commitments and the gov-ernment’s “willingness to run a deficit to fund them in the short term, the in-frastructure sector in Canada should be busy for years to come,” said Do-minic Leadsom with Turner and Townsend in Toronto. “For RICS and other infrastructure professionals, this provides a welcome boost and a sig-nificant opportunity to use their ex-pertise in expediting the delivery of these projects.”

“This new federal spending will have a significant and positive impact on workload,” agrees Liam Murray, principal of JLM Development Facili-tators in Vancouver – and probably without the customary transitional “freeze.” “How much infrastructure spending increases, or even if it does, depended on who won the election. Historically, when there is a change in government there is invariably a pe-riod when the incoming administra-tion will evaluate the overall financial situation. This usually means a short-term spending freeze, delaying capital projects in the pipeline. However, with the big win for the Liberal Party, which ran on a platform of increased capital spending and three years of deficits to fund that spending, this is now un-likely to occur.”

Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC)

The new government “has an un-paralleled opportunity to create re-silient communities, build a strong and diverse economy and foster healthy workplaces that support pro-ductivity,” says RAIC president Sam Oboh.

“The federal government is Canada’s single largest owner of buildings and land,” he said. “As such, it has a central role in setting the high-est standards of excellence and environmental sustainability to maximize the benefits to Canadians, achieve value for money and position Canada as an international leader.”

Aecon Group

President and CEO Teri McKibbon says he’s looking forward to compet-ing for some of the federal govern-ment’s planned new infrastructure spending.

“Obviously, it’s a competitive process,” he told the Business News Network (BNN). “So we have to be successful, we have to have the ap-propriate team in place to be able to target certain projects that we’re inter-ested in.”

McKibbon says he expects Aecon will benefit fairly quickly from the new spending, especially for the com-pany’s division focusing on smaller municipal projects.

“Those (business units) will re-spond fairly quickly to new investment by municipalities and access to that funding through various vehicles,” he said. “I think six to nine months is a reasonable timeframe for that type of a program to roll out and get ap-provals.”

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