Commentary

Canadian economic updates and forecasts tend to pit East versus West, with the latest iteration seing Alberta sufering at the hands of plummeting oil prices while a low Canadian dolar ignites hope of a rebounding manufacturing industry in Ontario. Wedged betwen East and West is the province of Manitoba. With one of the highest immigration rates in Canada relative to population, a real GDP growth rate of 2.4% (above Canada's 2.0% growth), and major infrastructure projects underway acros the province, Manitoba is no Canadian afterthought. At the heart of this central province are its vibrant towns and cities, with Winnipeg anchoring the region's economy. Like al cities acros Canada, Manitoba's communities are chalenged with balancing growth and renewal with limited fiscal capacity. PSD spoke with Manitoba's new Minister of Municipal Government, Drew Caldwel, to find out what the provincial government is doing to contribute to the development of strong communities and how infrastructure renewal and aset management fit into their long-term plan. Read more...

Public investment in infrastructure projects directly addresses the infrastructure deficit while creating jobs and contributing to economic growth. With such a powerful policy impact, it is no wonder that governments at all levels embrace infrastructure spending. Canada's federal government is no different, with a series of infrastructure funding announcements trailing Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he travels the nation in advance of next year's fall election. Today in London Ontario, the Prime Minister announced a new $5.8 billion infrastructure fund, with $5.3 billion earmarked for modernizing and repairing national infrastructure assets across the country. The remaining $500 million will be allocated to the repair and construction of on-reserve schools. Read more...

Depending on how municipalities respond to it, adversity can be the final detractor, a missed opportunity, or a timely reformist. Typically, our response to hardship, both as individuals and organizations, is designed to revert to a previous normal; we aim to recover. There is, however, a marked philosophical and practical difference between recovery—‘rising every time we fall’—and resilience—rising faster, taller, and more resolutely. Recovery is survival; resilience is growth. Recovery is fine; resilience is better. Read more...

Featured Research Articles

Reserves are the cornerstone of financial flexibility. Reserves provide a government with options to respond to unexpected issues and afford a buffer against shocks and other forms of risk. Managing reserves, though, can be a challenge. Foremost is the question of how much money to maintain in reserve. Axiomatically, it is vital to know when a reserve becomes excessive. Read more...

Many influential opinion leaders and decision-makers have made the case for revenues to support infrastructure and transit investment, in very persuasive terms. But apparently, in the view of most successful politicians, we are not winning the hearts and minds of the voters for more money from taxpayers' pockets. If we cannot generate new revenues from citizens and businesses to invest in public infrastructure assets, what can we do? The obvious answer, borrowing from Australia and Europe, is to find ways to leverage the valuable public assets that we already have. Faced with a range of fiscal and political challenges, many are proposing a new approach: leveraging or disposing of all or part of governments' investment in their legacy assets. The concept known as "public asset recycling" merits consideration. Read more...

Many organisations, both public and private, are facing the dual challenge of aging infrastructure and tight financial constraints. So, decisions about asset renewal or, if possible, life extension, are increasingly common and increasingly critical. The SALVO Project is an international cross-sector collaboration aimed at developing some common sense processes and generically applicable methods to evaluate and optimise decisions about what to spend, why, and when on aging assets. This article explains and illustrates the processes for evaluating just one of these options, through a specific case study: optimising the painting strategy of bridging steelwork. This is a case study from the SALVO consortium – one that has now been implemented across over 500 installations. Read more...