CPWA Has Major Impact on Landmark Infrastructure Report
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has released what the public works community can view as a landmark report entitled Building a More Climate Resilient Canada, which CPWA participated in through its own written submission. The Government of Canada is required to present a written response within 120 days.
We are pleased to report that Members of Parliament on the committee have voted to include CPWA’s recommendation in full, as follows:
- Recommendation 5—Communications Resiliency: That the Government of Canada, in establishing and supporting the permanent Public Safety Broadband Network, seek strategies for communications, resiliency and interoperability for public works personnel as first responders.
CPWA noted in our submission that the final report of the Temporary National Coordination Office (TNCO) included the recommended approach for the development of a nationwide and interoperable PSBN that meets the needs of the public safety community, and it notes that “the transition to a PSBN will be complex and will require all levels of government to support its development. Continued collaboration among all levels of government, industry and end users is essential to develop a network that meets the diverse expectations and interests of stakeholders.” We offered the example that in the United States, nationwide wireless broadband network FirstNet was launched in 2018 through a public-private partnership between the US federal government and AT&T. APWA is a member of FirstNet’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), whose mission is to assist FirstNet in carrying out its duties and responsibilities and consists of members representing all disciplines of public safety.
CPWA will be following up with the Ministry of Emergency Preparedness on Recommendation 5 of the committee’s report to offer further resources and information.
The Committee’s report also included a number of additional recommendations that reflect the advocacy CPWA has undertaken on critical infrastructure, including:
- Recommendation 1—Permanent Funding for Water and Wastewater Systems: That the Government of Canada create a permanent federal funding mechanism to support and enhance the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of modern water and wastewater systems in communities of all sizes.
- Recommendation 2—Repairs and Upgrade of Aqueduct Systems: That the Government of Canada eases conditions for subsidies aimed at the repairs or upgrade of aqueduct systems endangered by climate change or limiting the construction of new housing.
- Recommendation 3—Communications with Riparian Communities: That the Government of Canada and agencies improve their communications with municipalities bordering international watercourses in order to better understand water level needs to prevent flooding and environmental disasters and have cooperation in the evacuation and protection of these shared spaces.
- Recommendation 4—Making Federal Assets Available to Communities: That the Government of Canada facilitate the provision of federal assets to communities to offset the loss of infrastructure or services due to climate change.
- Recommendation 6—At-Risk Infrastructure: That the Government of Canada, in collaboration with provinces, territories, municipalities, as well as Indigenous communities, undertake a comprehensive assessment of at-risk infrastructure (as reflected within municipal secondary plans), including updated flood plain mapping (as reflected within municipal official plans) and an evaluation of redundant telecommunications systems, and work towards building a national, data-based inventory of infrastructure projects to help guide future investment decisions.
- Recommendation 7—Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards: That the Government of Canada support programs that assist provincial, territorial, local, First Nation and critical service entities in increasing resilience to natural hazards and with drought- and/or flood-related activities and expand the technology transfer of drought and/or flood water conservation strategies.
- Recommendation 8—Infrastructure Program Review: That the Government of Canada prioritize a review of its suite of infrastructure funding programs to ensure they are reducing barriers to access, especially for smaller, rural communities and addressing municipalities’ core public infrastructure needs and vulnerabilities in aging infrastructure.
- Recommendation 9—Climate Lens Criteria: That the Government of Canada redesign its climate risk assessment criteria on its infrastructure programs to make them more streamlined, flexible and more easily accessible for smaller and rural municipalities.
- Recommendation 10—Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund: That the Government of Canada review the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) to ensure appropriate funding to meet current and future needs, as well as to encourage a streamlined application process and the timely receipt of funding. DMAF should also allow communities to build to a higher standard with eligible costs expanded to include direct expenses, e.g., land acquisition to build mitigation infrastructure.
- Recommendation 11—Increase of Funding for the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund: That the Government of Canada substantially increase the funding for the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund.
- Recommendation 12—Valuing Natural Assets: That the Government of Canada continues to encourage infrastructure investment strategies that recognize the value and include the management and sustainability of natural assets.
Upcoming House Debates
- During the week of Monday, November 6, the Government will focus on debating the following legislation:
- Tuesday, November 7: Opposition Day.
House Environment Committee Begins Long-Awaited Freshwater Study
In late October, the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development began its long-awaited study on freshwater, which had been planned since early 2022. CPWA will be participating. The committee intends to “undertake a comprehensive study of federal policies and legislation relating to freshwater, and more specifically focusing on:
- the key legislative instruments of federal freshwater policy, including but not limited to the Canada Water Act, the Fisheries Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Canadian Navigable Waters Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and the Impact Assessment Act;
- the key organizational components of federal freshwater policy, including but not limited to Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Infrastructure Canada, Transport Canada, Public Safety Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Indigenous Services Canada, and Global Affairs Canada;
- the relationship between the federal government and the provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples, and local governments relating to freshwater protection and management;
- various international treaties governing Canada’s freshwater interests and obligations;
- present and future research needs relating to freshwater management and protection;
- the pressures on Canada’s freshwater resources, including with respect to climate change, flooding and drought; and
- the creation of a Canada Water Agency.”
Over $248.5 Million for Transit in British Columbia
On October 30, Member of Parliament for Richmond Centre Wilson Miao, British Columbia Minister Rob Fleming, and Erinn Pinkerton of BC Transit, announced that communities across British Columbia will receive new buses and see important upgrades to public transit infrastructure, thanks to an investment of more than $248.5 million from the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia, and BC Transit. A detailed breakdown of the funding is available here.
Burns Lake, British Columbia Region Receives Water and Wastewater Funding
On October 31, the Hon. Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities, announced that three new water and wastewater projects in the Burns Lake, BC region will provide cleaner and more reliable municipal services thanks to an investment of more than $10 million from the governments of Canada and British Columbia, and the municipalities of Burns Lake, Fraser Lake, and the District of Mackenzie. Due to its age, the current sewage treatment plant and electrical equipment in Burns Lake have reached the end of their service life. This project will replace the phosphorus treatment system, provide a new ultraviolet disinfection system, and make improvements to the lagoon system, improving services for a healthier environment.
Additionally, Fraser Lake will upgrade its aging reservoir, including the construction of a new water storage reservoir, improving the mixing system, valves, and pipe connections, upgrading the control building and electrical components, providing clean, reliable drinking water to the community. Finally, the District of Mackenzie will construct a water treatment system in the Gantazhaz subdivision in order to reduce manganese levels and bring the community into compliance with the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. This investment includes a new water treatment building, installing a manganese and iron removal system, chlorine injection system, and related works.