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A challenging build

Posted on April 6, 2017

How do we integrate tomorrow’s infrastructure on the foundation of what we have today?

That question was the focus of a panel of experts at GLOBE Capital, the two-day forum focused on answering questions on how to finance the 21st century.

In the building sector, we are seeing the rapid evolution from focusing on automation and integration, to data and connectivity, to digital building. Changing the technology focus, in theory, three times in a decade, causes a challenge in building technology infrastructure that, when upgrades are needed, is not cost-prohibitive to do so.

In transportation, our focus on gasoline infrastructure has made introducing electric fuelling options a challenge. According to Gerd Goette of Siemens, that infrastructure needs to be implemented with a consumer focus, making charging options available in areas that are accessible for consumers, but also have the potential to be profitable for the property owner. Ontario has already done some work in this regard, as they have begun rolling out chugging station at highway service stations and take-out restaurants throughout the province.

The transportation issue becomes a greater difficulty when considering urban transportation trends. As Jennifer Keesmaat, chief planner for the City of Toronto pointed out, addressing how we move in our cities is at the head of the quality of our cities. Movement by car is both a costly and non-sustainable form of transportation, but it is the foundation of the transportation systems in major centres across Canada.

What’s needed in the urban transportation model is a fundamental shift in thinking, which starts with the question of what kind of cities we seek to create. In the heart of Toronto’s downtown core, an area that is expected to double in population in the next decade, and where 75 per cent of people live within five kilometres of their workplace, the shift is to a transportation system focused on transit, cycling, and walking. Roads once widened to allow larger lanes for vehicle traffic must now be contracted to make way for larger pedestrian spaces.

Building the next generation of infrastructure assets, and rehabilitating the assets of previous generations, needs to consider how to ‘future proof’ what we build to ensure it can meet the demands over the entire lifecycle.

For more coverage of GLOBE Capital 2017, visit

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