Canada's Public Infrastructure Is At Risk, New Report Finds

The age and condition of key infrastructure shows urgent need for long-term renewal

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A new report released recently shows that a significant amount of public infrastructure in Canada is aging and in poor condition — reinforcing the urgent need for long-term investments in infrastructure renewal to meet the needs of Canadians.

“We’re talking about roads, bridges, libraries, arenas and more — things Canadians rely on every day,” says Bill Karsten, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. “Good, reliable infrastructure supports our quality of life in communities across the country, so Canadians should find these results concerning.”

The 2019 Canadian Infrastructure Report Card — produced by FCM and seven partner organizations — examines the state of Canada’s public infrastructure. Among the key finding ares:

  • 30% of water infrastructure (such as water mains and sewers) are in fair, poor or very poor condition. 
  • Nearly 40% of roads and bridges are in fair, poor or very poor condition, with roughly 80% being more than 20 years old.
  • Between 30% and 35% of recreational and cultural facilities are in fair, poor or very poor condition. In some categories (such as pools, libraries and community centers), more than 60% are at least 20 years old.

“This report shows the importance of long-term investments in renewing the infrastructure that’s already in our communities — even as we envision new projects to build,” Karsten says. “For municipal leaders, the best way to do that is through the federal Gas Tax Fund transfer.”

Every year the federal Gas Tax Fund delivers $2 billion directly to 3,600 municipalities for infrastructure renewal. Its challenge is its scale. Every year, it leaves key projects unfunded.

“The Gas Tax Fund transfer works because it empowers local leaders on the ground who know what’s needed, and who have renewal projects ready to go,” Karsten says. “Without action now, the services Canadians rely on today will be at risk in the next decade.”

The 2019 CIRC builds off similar reports in 2012 and 2016. It’s produced by the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies Canada, the Canadian Construction Association, the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association, the Canadian Public Works Association, the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, the Canadian Urban Transit Association, the Canadian Network of Asset Managers and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Download the report card.


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