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September 12, 2012

Half of Canada's municipal roads require significant repair, infrastructure report card finds Ottawa

A new national report card says Canada’s municipal infrastructure is at risk, with more than half of municipal roads requiring significant repairs and one in four wastewater plants needing major upgrades.

“The report card shows that core municipal infrastructure like roads and water systems, assets critical to Canada’s health, safety and economic prosperity, are at risk,” said Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) president Karen Leibovici, speaking today at a news conference in Ottawa. “Investments in infrastructure over the last few years have helped, but without long-term action we are still headed for a crisis.”

The first Canadian Infrastructure Report Card, a major study released by the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) and three industry partners, surveyed 123 municipalities, representing 60 per cent of the nation’s population. The voluntary survey was designed to assess the condition of municipal infrastructure in 2009-2010.

The report indicates that one in four roads is over capacity, transporting far more people and goods than it was designed to handle. And one in four wastewater treatment plants needs to be upgraded or replaced to meet new federal standards introduced this summer, at a cost of at least $20 billion.

The immediate findings of this report show that municipal drinking-water and wastewater systems ranked “Good: Adequate for now,” and that stormwater systems ranked “Very good: Fit for the future”. Roads received an overall grade of “Fair: Requires attention.”

Introduced in 2007, the $33-billion Building Canada Plan was the country’s first long-term plan for public infrastructure and it will expire in 2014. This report highlights how critical it is to continue building and renewing the infrastructure that is key to Canada’s continued economic vitality.

Without immediate improvement and ongoing maintenance, the cost of fixing or replacing the assets studied will explode over the next decade, says the FCM.

“The new federal long-term infrastructure plan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put our essential infrastructure back on solid ground. Municipalities are ready to work with all partners – federal, provincial, territorial, and the private sector - to fix the problem once and for all,” said Leibovici.

CCA partnered with the FCM, the Canadian Public Works Association (CPWA) and the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) to deliver the report card. This marks the first time a group of national stakeholders worked together to measure the state and performance of municipal infrastructure from coast to coast.

This first edition of the report card measured the condition of municipal roads, drinking water, wastewater, and storm water systems. Future studies, which the CCA and its partners plan to release on a regular basis, will look at other assets such as housing and transit.

The report card can be viewed on the newly launched website www.canadainfrastructure.ca.

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