ARCHIVED - Building for Prosperity: Public Infrastructure in Canada - Building Canada through Infrastructure Investments
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Building Canada through Infrastructure Investments
Modern, world-class public infrastructure is a key to ensuring Canadians enjoy the benefits of a strong economy, a clean environment and vibrant communities.
Supporting the Economy
The Government of Canada has long recognized the link between infrastructure investments and a strong economy. Public infrastructure supports productivity and innovation, facilitating trade activities and promoting local and regional development. All orders of government must help ensure that the infrastructure investments they do make provide the most support possible for a healthy national economy.
Public infrastructure, such as highways and local roads, allow goods and people to move freely and efficiently. As an exporting nation, Canada needs an integrated and efficient national transportation system. In addition to safe and efficient highways, Canada must ensure seamless connections between all modes of transportation, including railway and shipping facilities, which are increasingly important in high-traffic areas, such as major market hubs and coastal waterways. In a more local context, highways and roads also play an important economic role in connecting smaller, more remote communities to larger economic centres.
This need for connectivity includes broadband, which has quickly become an indispensible part of the world economy. Broadband is especially important in smaller and remote centres where it provides citizens with improved access to government and health services, jobs, business opportunities, education and training. But connectivity is just part of the story; better infrastructure can increase the potential for innovation and economic development.
Communities need to compete globally for investments and a skilled labour force. Investments in safe drinking water and access to cultural and recreational facilities are vital to building prosperous communities where people want to live. In addition, tourism and business travel make significant contributions to Canada’s economy. For example, in 2010, the tourism sector in Canada accounted for 1.6 million jobs, that is, 9.2 percent of all jobs in Canada.3 As such, tourism-related infrastructure projects, such as the construction or improvement of convention centres, can have significant economic and regional impacts.
3 Statistics Canada – Human Resource Module of the Tourism Satellite Account, 2010.
Supporting the Environment
Canada, like so many other countries is taking steps to protect its natural environment while competing in a global economy. Green infrastructure projects are all around us, from wind turbines to district energy systems. Investments in areas, such as clean technologies, renewable energies, clean water, sustainable transportation, waste management and green buildings, make a significant difference to the environment and support a strong economy. They also contribute to our quality of life, improving the health of our watersheds, managing our solid waste and providing support for energy retrofits of community buildings. These investments make our cities liveable.
Efforts to minimize the potential impacts of our activities are important for public health and are linked to efforts to address climate change. Where we build and how we expand our cities and communities can make a difference. Cities represent a major source of Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and there is a significant potential for energy savings and GHG emissions reduction through a better integration of energy systems in our communities. The level of energy efficiency we achieve, the way we generate and distribute energy and the transportation decisions we make, all have an impact on the quality of the air we breathe. Strategic investments in green infrastructure can contribute to achieving environmental outcomes in our communities. Making green choices as we build and plan infrastructure will help ensure that Canadians benefit from clean air, water and land for generations to come.
Sound infrastructure investments, even small investments in community infrastructure can be transformational, creating vibrant and meaningful places and spaces while increasing recreational opportunities and contributing to urban green spaces.
Community infrastructure itself — local arenas or recreational buildings, libraries and cultural facilities — has a much broader role than simply providing locations for services, social activities and programs. It provides a space for neighbourhoods and people to connect, to create a sense of place and local identity. When people come together and social interaction increases, communities flourish; they are healthier and safer.
Living and moving within a community is also a key factor in quality of life. A range of active transportation options, for example, cycling lanes and walking paths, helps connect people and communities while encouraging physical activity. Investments in public transit also support community health and liveability. For instance, accessible public transit can help seniors, as well as people with disabilities, to maintain their independence. Public transit also increases access to important employment and educational opportunities, as well as providing support for greater community involvement.
Public safety — individual, family, neighbourhood, community and national — is of the utmost importance to a prosperous society; citizens must feel safe in order to be engaged and contribute to society and the economy. A viable and resilient public infrastructure is essential to maintain safety and security: it facilitates the delivery of services, including emergency services in times of crisis, and helps create the type of community environment that promotes citizen involvement and engagement, through safe streets and sidewalks, and recreational and green spaces.
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