New federal infrastructure minister wants to speed up pace of building projects

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Ontario Construction Report staff writer

Catherine McKenna says her top priority as Canada’s new minister of infrastructure and communities is to speed up the pace of building projects.

“It is up to all orders of government to pull together and provide the essential infrastructure that will maintain and improve the way people live, work, and raise their families,” McKenna said in a speech to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

“The time to invest in Canada’s infrastructure is now to bring Canadians good jobs, a cleaner environment and thriving communities.”

The Liberal government has committed more than $180 billion over 12 years to improving roads, bridges, public transit and other needed infrastructure across Canada.

McKenna told municipal leaders that accelerating the pace of projects is the first of three main priorities.

“Let me just be clear about my priorities,” she said. “My first priority is getting things built quickly that matter to the lives of Canadians.”

McKenna said getting projects off the ground quickly will require all levels of government to work together.

“This is every bit as much about rural broadband, safe drinking water in remote communities and levelling the playing field on other baseline community infrastructure as it is about big cities, mega transportation projects which do tend to capture all the media attention,” she said.

Among the Liberal government’s top priorities, McKenna told municipal leaders she wants to ensure the benefits of infrastructure investments are distributed fairly across the country, including in rural and remote areas, including federal funding for high-speed internet service.

Tackling climate change is also a priority for McKenna who stressed that “infrastructure must respond to, and be more resilient to climate change, but also be a part of the solution” in the face of new challenges for municipalities, including flooding, drought, wild fires and extreme heat.”

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