Hurricane Sandy clearly illustrated the pressure that severe weather events apply to local infrastructure and highlighted the need to make long-term investments in those systems a top budget priority, say members of the national coalition, Municipal Infrastructure Forum.
“Hurricane Sandy was a vivid reminder of the growing pressures that our local infrastructure must now withstand,” says Robert Tremblay, director of research for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, a member of the forum made up of business, local governments and professional organizations.
Forum members met in Toronto on Nov. 8 to endorse shared principles for the new long-term infrastructure plan now being developed by the federal government. Under Ottawa’s existing plan, federal investments worth $2 billion annually will end in 2014.
More than half of all municipal roads are in need of immediate repair, while one in every four wastewater treatment plants requires major upgrades to meet new federal wastewater regulations, notes a forum statement. “Compounding the strain on aging municipal infrastructure are increased flooding, ice storms, and freezing rain associated with a changing climate,” the statement adds.
“The Canadian insurance industry has seen its costs multiply as a result of infrastructure that was never designed for today’s environment, and we fully support sustained investments that help build resilient communities and a secure economy,” Tremblay says.
“The right plan will make stable, predictable investments that give communities the certainty they need to plan, build and repair their infrastructure over decades, not just years,” comments Karen Leibovici, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Adds Carol Wilding, president and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade, “We’re calling on the federal government to build on its historic contributions to municipal infrastructure and ensure its new long-term infrastructure plan is reliable, sustainable and has the flexibility to address local needs.”