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Celebrating the past and focusing on the future of P3

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by Mark Romoff

Welcome to the 25th Annual CCPPP Conference on Public-Private Partnerships. This is a major milestone for the Council and for the P3 industry across Canada.
Mark Romoff. President and CEO of CCPPP
Mark Romoff. President and CEO of CCPPP

These next two days in Toronto will celebrate our past accomplishments — including a proper feting of our Annual Award recipients for Innovation and Excellence in P3s and honouring our 2017 Champion, Bert Clark. Our program will also sharply focus on the future and how we will shape and support the infrastructure agenda ahead.

Our achievements and experience of the past 25 years form the foundation for future success and prepare us well to address the challenges and opportunities on the horizon. And we welcome these!

Strong leadership and creative thinking will be required if we're to undertake an ambitious, successful public infrastructure plan for the 21st century. It will require the imagination and courage to open our minds to delivering infrastructure in ways that haven't yet been considered, exploring ways and means of generating a robust environment that supports the development of transformational infrastructure.

Innovation, ingenuity and urgency will be the themes as we address our first order of business: the pressing need to overcome the infrastructure deficit in Canada's indigenous communities. The Honourable Jane Philpott was recently appointed Canada's first Minister of Indigenous Services in order to bring greater focus and management to the community needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

Minister Philpott will deliver our Monday morning opening keynote address, shining a light on the need for innovative solutions as the government works with indigenous partners to build clean drinking water facilities, quality housing, safe schools, all-season roads, clean and reliable energy and broadband connectivity to indigenous communities.

Transformational infrastructure takes on sharpened significance now that the federal government has established the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB). We are pleased to welcome the inaugural chair of the CIB, Janice Fukakusa as our Tuesday afternoon keynote speaker.

Fukakusa will provide her unique perspective on the need to leverage and increase private sector investment into large, complex, revenue generating projects with particular focus on projects that wouldn't otherwise come to market. Her keynote will be followed by a timely session which will include a discussion on the role the CIB could play in establishing a prosperous and solid foundation for Canada's New Infrastructure Frontier.

Needless to say, that frontier will require a healthy, stable pipeline. We'll get a view from P3 representatives in advancing international markets like China, Mexico, South Africa, and Peru. We'll also take advantage of the expertise in the U.K., Australia, the U.S. and Canada to learn more about those sectors that are likely to drive the industry in the coming years.

Leadership and innovation will be at the heart of a discussion featuring Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. They'll address the challenges and opportunities faced as they've developed their infrastructure strategies and how they play into long-term economic development and bi-national trade initiatives.

Urban centres will require much of the new infrastructure as we embark on the era of Smart Cities. It must be resilient to environmental and cyber risks, have a life cycle of decades, be interconnected through digital networks, and be built with the smallest possible carbon footprint.

Canada's Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Amarjeet Sohi and Toronto Mayor John Tory will offer their perspectives on how the next phase of infrastructure will drive economic growth for future generations. This is particularly important in Canada as the national economy shifts from resources to resourcefulness.

Dan Doctoroff will pick up that theme as our luncheon speaker on day two. He is Chairman and CEO of Sidewalk Labs — Alphabet Inc.'s urban innovation organization. Just a few weeks ago Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk Labs announced plans to jointly create a "smart neighbourhood" along the city's eastern waterfront. It will be "built from the internet up...merging the physical and digital realms."

In his remarks, Dan will make it clear we're embarking on an era when thinking "big and beyond" is no longer the exception — it is the expectation. And that's why we're excited to welcome a keynote speaker who embodies "big think", who will challenge your thinking when it comes to how you view our industry and conduct your business.

Salim Ismail is our Monday luncheon speaker. Among his many accomplishments he is the founding Executive Director of Singularity University and the former vice president of Yahoo!. Count on him to present a provocative view of the future we haven't yet imagined — a vision that will take you out of your comfort zone and point to solutions to problems we aren't yet aware of.

These next two days in Toronto are all about forward thinking. It's all about the next generation of infrastructure and preparing for the evolution of a highly successful P3 model. It's all about avoiding the trap of saying "We've always done it that way".

Enjoy the conference.

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