VIDEO: Is Ontario's Long-Term Infrastructure Plan on the Right Track?
On May 17, at the Ontario Public Works Association luncheon, Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, Drew Fagan, outlined the Province’s 10-year plan for infrastructure development and renewal.
The plan commits to “promoting better asset management across sectors,” said Fagan. It will do that, in part, by requiring any municipality with a big funding ask to submit a solid asset management plan.
But, as Debbie Korolnek with the Town of Bradford-West Gwillimbury pointed out during question period, pushing better asset management plans is not where smaller municipalities like hers need help.
Fagan said as part of consultations to develop the next federal infrastructure plan, the Province may suggest that the feds set up a dedicated fund to help create best practices for asset management. Korolnek said, “We know what we should spend on infrastructure. What we need help with is, when it comes to budget time, convincing councils who only look about four years ahead to spend more on infrastructure renewal. We know the Province supports that, but how do we incentivize local government to do it?” she asked.
After his address–during which Fagan officially designated this week as public works week in Ontario–we asked him if a ten-year plan is long-term enough. After all, plans like Places to Grow take a 25-year outlook. And, as Saeed Mirza told us in a recent interview, cities should be thinking about what kind of community they want to create in the very long-term. Provinces should be thinking the same way.
Fagan didn’t disagree, but he said that infrastructure investment has been neglected for so long–Building Together is Ontario’s first investment, in real terms, in public infrastructure since the 1960s–that even a ten-year plan is a great achievement. The good news: infrastructure planning and investment is on the agenda in Ontario.