I read an interesting article in the latest edition of Maclean's last night, entitled Building a better city. If you look at how an ecosystem works, it spends as much time on maintaining itself as growing, unlike human systems. Our infrastructure deficit is continuing, making the cost of replacement greater every year we keep sticking our heads in the sand. The infrastructure deficit is estimated at $123 billion in 2007, up exponentially from $12 billion in 1985 and $60 billion in 2003. The situation is further compounded by the fact that municipalities get just eight cents of every tax dollar, and yet are responsible for 53 per cent of public infrastructure.
I think it is time that the public start demanding that all levels of government turn their attention to this critical public policy, and if we want to stimulate the current economy, I can think of no better way that to begin to seriously address this infrastructure deficit, but not merely repair but think about replacing with more sustainable infrastructure over the longer term, which will also help towards climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The other thing that struck me was the article spoke about the work of several Canada Research Chairs (CRCs)--Nemkumar Banthia, CRC in infrastructure rehabilitation and sustainability, UBC; Simaan AbouRizk, CRC in operations stimulation, University of Alberta, and Ian Moore, CRC in infrastructure engineering, Queen's Universityas well as Professor Richard Brachman, Queen's University. Moore states that "our underground infrastructure such as pipes, supplying clean drinking water and the management of waste water likely does more to safeguard human health than any other factor".
Economically, ecologially and socially we simply cannot afford to continue on the same old, same old with this infrastructure deficit. Surely with the kind of expertise and knowledge of our Canada Research Chairs and other experts in Canada, we can do better, let's develop a plan, set priorities, determine a budget and allocate resources and get on with it.
And hats off to the Canada Research Chairs Secretariat and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their funding of these innovative researchers.