Alternative procurement models would allow the private sector greater opportunity
OTTAWA—A list of infrastructure concerns in Canada’s Northern and Aboriginal communities needs to be addressed, from poor access to basic amenities such as clean water, sewage treatment, and waste management systems to transportation and telecommunications. A new report—Re-Thinking Infrastructure Financing for Canada’s Northern and Aboriginal Communities—by The Conference Board of Canada suggests that governments should be more open to private sector and Aboriginal participation to help close the infrastructure gap in a timely and efficient way.
“The isolated location of many Aboriginal communities substantially raises the costs and complexity of infrastructure construction projects,” says Christopher Duschenes, director, Northern and Aboriginal policy, The Conference Board of Canada. “Limited transportation links, shorter building seasons and harsh climate conditions present unique challenges to infrastructure planning, financing, operation and maintenance. Closing the infrastructure gap is a huge undertaking and new infrastructure procurement and financing options are needed to help move this critical agenda forward.”
Highlights from the report include:
Re-Thinking Infrastructure Financing for Canada’s Northern and Aboriginal Communities proposes that alternative procurement models are needed and would allow the private sector greater opportunity to take the lead on designing innovative solutions to infrastructure challenges. Alternative modes of transport, such as airships and drones, advances in modular housing design, and the application of smart micro-grid technologies for electricity and connectivity are a few of the creative solutions under private-sector leadership.
The report also suggests that Aboriginal communities and businesses need greater opportunities to invest in and become more involved with infrastructure development. Aboriginal financial institutions have developed programs to encourage Aboriginal participation in procurement and development by assisting businesses and communities to build their portfolios and improve their creditworthiness. Many of Canada’s leading banks also now offer Aboriginal banking services and related infrastructure financing options.
The findings in this report are based on a roundtable hosted by The Conference Board of Canada and The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, which brought together experts from the public and private sectors to discuss how new approaches to procurement and financing could help close Canada’s Northern and Aboriginal infrastructure gaps.