Stuck in Traffic for 10,000 years: Canadian Problems that Infrastructure Investment Can Solve


The Canadian Chamber of Commerce


The Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Stuck in Traffic for 10,000 Years: Canadian Problems that Infrastructure Investments Can Solve. Ottawa: July 2017. Web.


The Canadian Chamber of Commerce


July 19, 2017


Canadian commuters spend an additional 10,000 years of time stuck in traffic annually as a result of road congestion from key bottlenecks in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. This report outlines seven problems, including the aforementioned road congestion, which strategic public-private infrastructure investment can solve.

Key Findings

  • To solve road congestion in major cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver the paper suggests:
    • Prioritizing investments in transportation capacity where they are needed most;
    • Improving the management and maintenance of transportation assets (approximately 80% of the public roadways in Canada are owned by municipal governments and as a result maintenance varies); and
    • Foster transportation innovation to improve the productivity of existing assets and encourage private sector investments in technologies that have the capacity to reduce congestion.
  • The report highlights the major changes anticipated to come to Montreal through its light rail mega-project.
    • The project was proposed by the Caisse which will build, own and operate the system and the Caisse will be providing $3.1 billion of the $5.9 billion required to build the project.
    • The report notes that “projects such as this will become more common as governments seek to leverage private sector expertise and risk management for large and complex projects through public-private partnerships and other alternative financing mechanisms.”
  • The report argues that the main problem with Canada’s Asia Pacific trade-enabling infrastructure is insufficient coordination of public-private infrastructure investment not a shortage of private investment interest.
    • It is recommended that the Canadian Infrastructure Bank is best suited to resolve this issue by improving supply chain data collection.
  • In terms of information technology infrastructure, the report notes that while 96 per cent of Canadians have access to broadband because of billions of dollars in private investments, some rural communities still don’t have that connectivity because it is not economical for the private sector to invest.
    • Included in the report’s recommendations is increasing public infrastructure investment in rural and remote connectivity.
  • The fourth section tackles “realizing the potential of Canada’s North.” To resolve the issues presented by Canada’s North it is suggested that the federal government increase per capita funding for the North. Two other recommendations were:
    • Better coordination of infrastructure investments in the North. There are many proposed infrastructure projects competing for funding across the territories. Investment would benefit from greater cross-territorial collaboration through a formal mechanism.
    • Incentivize investment in the North through the Canada Infrastructure Bank. As the federal government stands up the Canada Infrastructure Bank it should ensure that the bank’s mandate includes a specific focus on facilitating public-private investment in strategic infrastructure projects that could help unlock new economic opportunities in the North.
  • The fifth section, on “Enhancing the Quebec-Ontario Continental Trade Corridor,” notes that Canada’s transportation networks from Ontario and Quebec into the U.S. require increased capacity to support the long-term global competitiveness of North American manufacturers.
    • Problems associated with border crossing congestion are mentioned
    • The Gordie Howe Bridge also discussed. It is recommended the government use all means available to advance its construction and avoid further delay.
    • Notes that the Canadian Infrastructure Bank could be used to tackle the issues associated with the continental trade corridors
  • The electrification section notes Canada’s leadership in the nuclear sector including Ontario, where 60 per cent of electricity is nuclear. Despite Canada’s nuclear success the report notes that Bruce Power’s application to build a reactor 480 km northwest of Edmonton was abandoned due to lack of support in the region.

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