March 1, 2012 by Corinne Lynds
It’s no secret that infrastructure projects are at the core of Canada’s construction industry. Whether it’s the roads we drive on, schools our kids go to, or health care facilities that we visit—strong infrastructure directly impacts the quality of our daily lives.
In order for Canada’s infrastructure to be strong, both the public and private sectors need to work together. This message is being delivered loud and clear by the construction industry.
According to a KPMG Global Construction Survey released last month, “lack of leadership by government” and “lack of private sector initiative” were the two most significant barriers to infrastructure development in an industry that is facing increasing demand.
“Governments at all levels are tightening their belts, but as major urban areas strain to support growing populations, the need for infrastructure is growing,” said Brad Watson, partner and head of KPMG in Canada’s Global Infrastructure Advisory Practice. “The survey results show that industry is expressing its frustration with the obstacles that currently exist.
Through our work, we are seeing greater synergies between the public and private sector, which is
encouraging more private sector investment.”
The report also found that infrastructure is so vital to growth that even the most cash-strapped governments have recognized that they will need to make it a higher priority—or face a drastic change in lifestyle for their people. Worldwide, the expected cost for infrastructure over the next 40 years is approximately US$70 trillion.
When government and the private sector do join forces in public-private partnerships (P3s), there is strong evidence to suggest that these collaborations lead to better quality infrastructure projects that result in greater longevity, cost savings and the use of more sustainable materials.
In that same vein, risk consultant David Bowcott says a new era is dawning in construction, one where cost is no longer king and the emphasis is gradually shifting to infrastructure life-cycle costs. He believes that trend is being driven by P3s in part, but more so about an entire asset management strategy. See P3s drive the way to better infrastructure on page 24.
With economic uncertainty, skills shortages and government deficits still posing very real threats to the industry, it is clear that government and the private sector must work together to find solutions to these challenges in order to meet growing infrastructure demand.
Corinne Lynds / Editor