February 2, 2004

Halton municipality signs on to national InfraGuide network

The Regional Municipality of Halton has joined 27 other Canadian municipalities in signing on to the National Guide to Sustainable Municipal Infrastructure (InfraGuide), a national project designed to help address Canada's looming infrastructure deficit.

InfraGuide-a joint effort of Infrastructure Canada, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the National Research Council (NRC)-is both a new, national network of people and a growing collection of user-friendly best practice documents researched and written specifically for municipalities. It is supported by a network of practitioners, researchers, and municipal governments across Canada. The city of Regina was the first to endorse InfraGuide in November 2002.

Based on Canadian experience and research, the best practices address all core infrastructure, from roads to potable water, stormwater and wastewater, including environmental protocols and better decision-making and investment planning. The InfraGuide network is not attempting to reinvent the wheel. As a national approach to local needs in infrastructure, it focuses on discovering the wheels that get the most mileage over the long run, and are sensitive to environmental and social implications. So far, 29 best practices have been published or are in the works.

Canadian infrastructure is valued at $1.6 trillion. Investment in that infrastructure has often been based on a "build it and forget it" approach. While municipalities currently spend between $12 to $15 billion annually on infrastructure maintenance, it is becoming increasingly clear that spending is not keeping pace with, basic needs. This is creating an "infrastructure debt".

"Our participation in the InfraGuide process will further our efforts to share information and establish a nationally endorsed framework for infrastructure decisions from which all municipalities in Canada will benefit," said Halton regional chair Joyce Savoline. InfraGuide Project Director Nancy Schepers sees the passage of municipal council motions as an important step that signals the value elected officials place on the work of InfraGuide-a signal to their counterparts across the country and to their own municipal staff.

"As our best practice documents are even more widely disseminated and more municipalities learn of the benefits of joining this effort and making use of our outputs I'm confident that they will want to give their official support," she said.

Officials from other municipalities have also become involved in the nationwide sharing of knowledge, responding to surveys that helped to set priorities and to create the database of current practices. George Terry of the Ontario Clean Water Agency, for example, reviewed a draft report on water quality in distribution systems and concluded it will "go a long way to ensuring a standardized approach to water quality management not only across the province of Ontario, but the rest of Canada as well."

Moncton Mayor Brian Murphy, whose council passed a motion in April 2003, confirmed that "by supporting InfraGuide, Moncton is committing to share its knowledge and expertise and benefit from the wealth of knowledge across Canada."

More information about InfraGuide is available through its Web site, www.infraguide.ca, or by calling toll-free 1-866-330-3350.

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