On February 16, senior executives from across Canada came together virtually to celebrate a historic $250 billion in public infrastructure development featured in the Top100 Projects report for 2021.
Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna delivered the keynote address, providing attendees with insight about her ambitious plans – and funding commitments – to build cleaner, greener, and more inclusive Canadian infrastructure for a resilient recovery from the ongoing pandemic. A highlight of the speech was the newly announced $15 billion public transit fund.
Following the keynote, moderators Todd Latham of Actual Media and Andrew Macklin of WSP Canada (author of the Top100 report and former managing editor of ReNew Canada) engaged panelists in some dynamic conversations. Chatham House Rules were in effect.
The panel on investing in Canadian infrastructure projects provided awareness about where the prevailing winds are blowing into 2021 and beyond. Ehren Cory from the Canada Infrastructure Bank, Niilo Edwards from The First Nations Major Projects Coalition, Enid Slack from the Munk School of Global Affairs, and Vickie Turnbull from the Royal Bank of Canada each brought their expertise to the table. Pandemic impact was a central talking point. For instance, broadband infrastructure is more of an immediate priority. Stimulus funds are addressing these issues, while also providing long-term benefits. There was also uncertainty expressed about how the urban landscape is shifting with more and more people working remotely, and how this will impact infrastructure spending.
A second panel on building Canada’s infrastructure plans featured Mark Liedemann from Infrastructure BC, Michael Lindsay from Infrastructure Ontario, Mary Van Buren from the Canadian Construction Association, and Phil Verster from Metrolinx. There were some interesting experiences shared about provincial and territorial pipelines and how teams are working together to address evolving capacity issues. There was a clear consensus about the need for a more detailed timeline and assurance for the flow of infrastructure funds. Concerns about risk-transfer and about the lack of confidence in supply chains were also communicated.
Finally, a third panel gazed into the crystal ball to discuss new trends and innovations, including everything from more public-private partnership projects to sustainable materials such as concrete that captures carbon. Reece Bailey from EXP, Eric Peissel from WSP Canada, and Kelly Wallace from PCL Construction discussed the technological and societal demands they are actively addressing as Canadians work to build back better.
In between informative panel sessions, participants gathered in online network groups through the Whova platform, which also provided a variety of resource materials contributed by the various speakers, sponsors, and attendees.
ReNew Canada will be reporting on all the issues discussed in the panel conversations in more detail in upcoming editions.
Work is underway to develop the 2022 edition of the Top100 Projects report. Next year we plan to be back to an in-person annual event of the “Top100 Projects Key Players and Owners Dinner,” at The Carlu in Toronto on February 22, 2022.
For further information about the annual report and event, please visit: https://www.renewcanada.net/