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August 28, 2012

New Ontario municipal infrastructure funding strategy supported by Consulting Engineers of Ontario

OTTAWA

Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) has commended the Ontario government for the launch of its municipal infrastructure strategy.

“The long term planning and investment that is necessary to reduce the infrastructure deficit is impossible without a sound asset management plan,” CEO Barry Steinberg said in a release.

“We have advocated for asset management to be a cornerstone of Ontario’s infrastructure strategy for the past number of years and we are very pleased to see that this work has not gone unnoticed.”

In 2010, the association launched a Think Long-Term Ontario campaign to encourage all levels of government to plan according to infrastructure lifecycles and not election timeframes. Asset management was presented as a critical tool to achieve this objective.

The association said the new provincial program will foster “a new era” in long-term planning in the province and help municipalities build the capacity to manage their infrastructure “in a way that will safeguard Ontario’s quality of life.”

The strategy, which was announced in mid-August, requires municipalities that request provincial infrastructure funding to show how projects fit within a comprehensive asset management plan.

Asset management plans help municipalities make smart planning decisions about building, operating, maintaining, renewing and replacing infrastructure over the long term, the Infrastructure Ministry said.

Through the strategy, the province is providing $60 million over the next three years to municipalities.

Up to $9 million will be used to help municipalities prepare their plans while the remaining funds will be used to address critical projects identified in those finalized plans.

Eligible communities can apply for funding to help them prepare asset management plans. The deadline is Oct. 22.

Speaking at the 2012 conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli said the three-pillar strategy is the critical next step in Ontario’s story of municipal infrastructure renewal.

“Collectively we need to do a better job of keeping track of our built infrastructure to ensure that we are both planning appropriate lifecycle maintenance costs as well as prioritizing new capital projects accordingly.”

CEO said recent numbers estimate that there is a $60 billion infrastructure deficit in Ontario, “reinforcing the need for strategic and thoughtful investments to be made in the system.”

Steinberg said CEO members are “standing by” to provide asset management expertise to municipalities “who will have to move quickly to develop asset management plans in order to take advantage of provincial funding.”

Consulting Engineers of Ontario is a non-profit association representing more than 220 engineering firms across Ontario employing more than 18,000 people.

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