The role of the private sector in financing public infrastructure was front and centre at a recent roundtable in Ottawa hosted by Infrastructure Canada.
“It was a very candid and constructive discussion,” said John Gamble, president of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada (ACEC), one of the organizations that participated in the Aug. 29 meeting.
“I think this was a sincere effort by the government to understand the benefits of private sector investment, public-private partnerships and otherwise, and what needs to be done to encourage investment by the private sector.”
The meeting, a follow-up to series of regional roundtables held over the summer, was hosted by Denis Lebel, minister of transport, infrastructure and communities and Steven Fletcher, minister of state (transport).
In attendance were representatives of various industry and trade associations as well as financial institutions. The Canadian Construction Association was one of the organizations at the table.
“There were a lot of very knowledgeable people in the room,” Gamble said.
“They provided some very pragmatic advice. I think the discussion will serve the minister (Lebel) well in developing prudent public policy.”
Lebel and Fletcher wrapped up a series of provincial and territorial roundtables at the end of July.
The intent was to get input from key stakeholders on development of a new long-term plan for public infrastructure that will extend beyond the expiry of the current Building Canada Fund in 2014.
Since then, local chambers of commerce in various cities have been updated on the government’s plans, as were delegates to the annual conference in August of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
Gamble said Lebel, “to his credit, takes the infrastructure challenge very seriously and very earnestly wants to develop sound public policy” when it comes to development of a long-term plan.
“He encouraged the stakeholders (at the Aug. 29 meeting) to do most of the talking,” Gamble said.
“I think he wants to make sure he has good information moving forward.”
A national roundtable is to be held this fall. ACEC has been invited by Lebel’s office to participate. A date has not yet been announced.
For more information about ACEC visit www.acec.ca.