Chapter 2: Planning for the future
Ontario is acting to improve planning — in particular through good asset management — considering the full cost of infrastructure and improving how the government prioritizes projects. Better planning will help Ontario prepare for the future, and will also help save money. The government will realize further savings by making the most of Ontario’s existing assets through proper maintenance and by managing demand.
Planning based on evidence
Evidence-based decision making uses the best available analytics, research and information on program results to guide government decisions. It identifies gaps in evidence, and supports policy-makers in monitoring implementation, in identifying policy objectives, outcomes and baseline measures, and in continually improving performance. It also recognizes the complexity of some of the challenges that the government is facing, especially when decisions affect multiple priorities, such as policy, service delivery or procurement.
The government needs to manage Ontario’s assets responsibly to get the most from its investment, manage its risks and ensure that Ontarians can rely on the province’s public infrastructure for a high level of service. When government manages assets well, it acts sustainably and provides better services to Ontarians, while saving money in the long term. Sound asset management principles are rooted in comprehensive data about the condition, function and utilization of infrastructure assets.
When we build a new asset, we need to understand how much it will cost to operate and maintain it. Asset management is about being proactive, rather than reactive. By anticipating Ontario’s maintenance needs, the government can prevent Ontario’s assets from deteriorating further and can maintain the level of service, while saving money in the long run.
The figure below shows the high cost of neglect and that small but timely investments save money. If the condition of the asset is allowed to deteriorate to the point at which it must be replaced, the cost is $60 million every 30 years. In contrast, if smart asset management is undertaken and proactive rehabilitation investments are made, the cost would be $10 million every 15 years.
Another key element of asset management involves taking into account the potential impacts of climate change, which can damage assets, especially if they are aging and not well maintained, and could cause service disruptions, failures and costly repairs. Proactive asset management integrates climate change mitigation and adaptation considerations to build resilience and ensure continuity and quality of service levels.
To effectively manage and plan infrastructure, the government needs comprehensive data about Ontario’s assets. Every infrastructure decision has a corresponding maintenance cost. Understanding the state of federal, provincial and municipal infrastructure allows governments to make the necessary investments to maintain assets in a state of good repair. This plan is an important step to getting there.
Chapter 4 of this plan summarizes Ontario’s Asset Inventory, and this information will help support effective infrastructure decision making. This plan and the accompanying Technical Appendix outline in detail how the Province will strengthen asset management planning and evidence-based decision making. The Technical Appendix contains a more detailed overview of Ontario’s Asset Inventory, which makes substantial progress toward meeting the first requirement of the IJPA.
Considering the full cost of infrastructure
To make evidence-based decisions and manage Ontario’s assets responsibly, the government needs to understand the full cost of an infrastructure project over its lifetime. Beyond the immediate construction of the asset, this includes the cost of operating the asset, maintaining the asset to a standard of good repair and the eventual decommissioning of the asset, repurposing of the asset at the end of its useful life, or repurposing materials after demolition. For example, when the previous Terminal 1 building at Toronto Pearson International Airport was demolished, the vast majority of the materials were recycled. The recycled concrete was used in the construction of the new terminal.
Ontario is committed to having a full life-cycle view of potential investments and their alternatives. Life-Cycle Cost Assessment helps government make informed investment decisions and answer questions such as: whether to renew an existing asset or build a new one; whether to lease existing space or build in a new space; how to appropriately consider the operating and maintenance costs over the life of the asset; how best to plan for the eventual decommissioning or repurposing of the asset.
When the government considers potential infrastructure investments, it considers life-cycle budgets, which include capital costs, operating costs such as energy, maintenance, financing costs and other relevant costs. The development of a life-cycle plan requires the government to understand the benefit of proactive and not reactive maintenance. It also requires the government to set aside operational funds to manage the life cycle and refurbishment of systems effectively and to recognize when an upfront investment can reduce long-term costs.
Improving how projects are prioritized
When planning infrastructure projects, the government needs to prioritize investments to make sure it is meeting Ontarians’ needs. Ultimately, Ontario’s priorities should be informed by community needs and broader trends, such as demographic change and new technology, and policy goals, such as economic, social and environmental benefits.
As required under the IJPA, infrastructure investment decisions should consider evidence, including the life-cycle costs of an asset and whether a project would stimulate the economy, align with public-policy goals and achieve a long-term return on investment.
The Province is enhancing the government’s capacity for evidence-based decision making. At its core, this is about identifying the outcomes government wants to achieve and ensuring the best available evidence and analysis informs the government’s decisions. To support this approach, the Province is working to transform the infrastructure planning and prioritization process to further improve the government’s ability to make the right infrastructure investments in the right locations at the right time.
The government is undertaking extensive research to understand best practices in infrastructure planning and prioritization, and will apply these findings to ongoing work to improve consistency in business cases. This is to ensure the clear identification to decision-makers of the critical investments that are necessary to address health and safety; deliver critical services; address vulnerabilities to climate impacts; or to deliver on government mandate commitments or time-limited opportunities.
As government practices continue to improve, there will be clear prioritization criteria to assess the economic, social and environmental impacts of investments. There will also be improvement of business cases to ensure that decision-makers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions. This evidence will include the current provincial infrastructure capacity, the gaps between what Ontario has and what Ontario needs, and a clear strategy on how the government will meet those needs.
Building in the right place
Building Together, Ontario’s 2011 long-term infrastructure plan, made a strong commitment to align with other provincial initiatives, such as the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. This LTIP continues that commitment. The government needs to ensure that infrastructure projects that get built in Ontario are consistent with municipal official plans and provincial land-use policies and plans.
Going forward, Ontario will take steps to ensure that infrastructure planning better supports the Province’s land-use planning framework and related initiatives. It includes the Provincial Policy Statement (2014) and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2017), as well as the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario (2011), the Greenbelt Plan (2017), Metrolinx’s Regional Transportation Plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (2008), the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (2017), the Niagara Escarpment Plan (2017) and the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
The Growth Plan and Provincial Policy Statement require that public infrastructure:
- be located in areas that have been identified as suitable for accommodating intensification and higher-density mixed uses in a more compact built form
- be located in proximity to existing or planned transit
- support the creation of complete communities
- support the protection of natural heritage systems
The provincial land-use planning framework requires an integrated approach to land-use planning, infrastructure investments and protection of the environment to support growth. The government is taking steps to ensure that infrastructure planning is aligned with these elements of the land-use planning framework. Decision making will assess projects for alignment by identifying the selected location and analyzing how the infrastructure asset will be integrated into the surrounding community.
Aligning infrastructure investments with land-use plans helps support the development of compact and complete communities. For example, the Growth Plan requires a municipality’s official plan to identify transit corridors that should be the priority for transit investment and intensification, and municipalities are encouraged to work with the Province and stakeholders to undertake a co-ordinated approach to planning for large areas with high concentrations of employment that cross municipal boundaries.
Strategically planned and located infrastructure plays a central role in building compact, transit-supportive communities that contribute to economic competitiveness, curb sprawl, build resilience to climate change and protect vulnerable agricultural land. Protections for the Greenbelt Agricultural System and Natural Heritage System are particularly important in terms of infrastructure development/expansion in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. It can also have a range of co-benefits, including responding to the impacts of climate change and protecting endangered species and biodiversity, as was noted in the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s 2017 Environmental Protection Report, Good Choices, Bad Choices: Environmental Rights and Environmental Protection in Ontario.
As required by the IJPA, ministries need to consider alignment with the Province’s land-use planning framework as part of their internal infrastructure planning. Asset location decisions must be well documented — noting factors considered and trade-offs made. Ontario’s infrastructure assets need to contribute to the communities and environment surrounding them. New, expanded or modified assets must be integrated with, and build on, the existing service and employment hubs surrounding them.
The Province wants its infrastructure decisions to be better informed by local plans and priorities, and is working with communities to better align provincially-funded infrastructure with the provincial land-use planning framework. Through this approach to long-term infrastructure planning, Ontario is also looking through the lens of the broader well-being and service needs of communities, which will support the government’s commitment to implementing the recommendations of Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan.
This will help to ensure that public-service facilities, such as hospitals, long-term-care facilities, libraries and schools are located to support the achievement of complete communities and protect employment lands. The Province already requires municipalities to have official plans that align with provincial plans and policies and to have updated zoning, and the Province ties this requirement to funding for infrastructure, as appropriate.
It is critical that the Province co-ordinates its planning — within and across the provincial government and externally — and brings the right people into the planning process.
One policy tool that governments use to co-ordinate construction is a “one-dig” policy, which encourages the co-ordination of different infrastructure or utility projects to take place at the same time. For example, if a community needs to repair a watermain and will have to install broadband fibre cables, a one-dig policy would encourage these two construction projects to happen at the same time, rather than having two separate construction projects in the same place at different times.
Having to experience multiple “digs” in the same location is a long-standing complaint from communities, businesses and residents. Multiple digs also increase the impact of infrastructure investments on the natural environment. Using a “one-dig” policy to co-ordinate construction of roads, water and wastewater infrastructure, broadband, and utilities could help reduce these impacts.
This co-ordinated multi-infrastructure approach should apply at all phases of planning, including the identification and protection of future multi-purpose infrastructure corridors, and the co-ordination of rehabilitation work for different types of infrastructure in the same area.
Considering climate change
The Government of Ontario recognizes the growing strain climate change is putting on the province’s infrastructure, including on capital and operations and maintenance budgets. It is committed to ensuring that long-term infrastructure planning is aligned with Ontario’s provincial climate change priorities. This means making choices about how Ontario delivers services to avoid or reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and supporting the government’s broader efforts to move toward a more energy efficient and prosperous low-carbon economy. It also means ensuring that the provincial infrastructure is resilient to the effects of a changing climate.
Ontario spends billions of dollars each year in procurement, building the schools, hospitals, public transit and community assets that Ontarians rely upon. By building it right from the start, the government can ensure that it is doing its part to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental quality.
Climate change mitigation
Ontario’s Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act, 2016 sets targets for reducing GHG emissions — 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, 37 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. The Ontario Government has also set a target to reduce emissions from its own operations — 50 per cent below 2006 levels by 2030. Meeting these targets will require a transformation toward a low-carbon economy. To help meet these targets, Ontario is leading and supporting actions to ensure climate change mitigation is taken into account across government and throughout the planning process, including the making of decisions on capital expenditures for infrastructure projects.
Ontario will also do its part to reduce the environmental impact of infrastructure investments by integrating life-cycle assessment (LCA) into infrastructure planning, procurement, business case development and decision making processes. To contribute to this goal and support reductions in GHG emissions, the government is moving to integrate life-cycle assessment into long-term infrastructure planning.
In addition to considering the total cost of an asset over its lifespan, the government needs to consider the total environmental impact of a project. The construction, operation, maintenance, retrofits and decommissioning of infrastructure projects result in GHG emissions and other environmental impacts. Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a tool that can be used to measure the environmental impact of an infrastructure asset over its lifespan. It can help identify lower-carbon design, materials and construction options for new builds and retrofits to reduce the environmental impact.
Integrating LCA into infrastructure planning can move the province toward a low-carbon future. Investing in GHG reductions in Ontario’s infrastructure planning, design, construction and operations could create economic opportunities for low-carbon products across Ontario’s economy.
Taking a life-cycle perspective in the infrastructure decision making process means the Province will be able to address the impact of infrastructure on climate change strategically, throughout planning and priority-setting.
LCA results will help government make evidence-based decisions about whether it’s better to build a new asset or to retrofit an existing one. Ontario will also be able to use LCA results to compare environmental trade-offs between options to address a given service need.
The government is taking a phased approach to introduce LCA into the province’s infrastructure-planning and procurement processes. It is starting to integrate LCA into infrastructure planning in phases by:
- continuing to consult with technical experts in Fall 2017 for advice on the implementation of LCA
- identifying potential infrastructure projects to demonstrate the LCA approach, which could involve including LCA in the procurement of some large, complex projects in 2018
- providing tools and guidelines for life-cycle environmental considerations to be incorporated into ministries’ business cases for infrastructure investments in 2018
Starting in 2019, the Province plans to roll out LCA broadly as a tool to support evidence-based infrastructure decisions. Taking an LCA approach will support both the transformation of service delivery and Ontario’s transition to a low-carbon economy. Ontario will work toward having an LCA for major infrastructure projects by mid-2020.
The Government of Ontario will continue to work to integrate other climate change tools into infrastructure planning and decisions, including the application of a social cost of carbon. The social cost of carbon is one tool which measures, in dollars, the quantifiable costs and benefits of emitting one additional tonne of carbon dioxide. The social cost of carbon can help provide a comprehensive estimate of the potential damage from emissions, including changes to agricultural productivity, human health, property damage from increased flood risk, and changes in energy system costs. In addition to the measures offered through LCA, the potential exists to apply carbon-emission values in assessing the true cost of projects and infrastructure decisions.
By integrating LCA into decision making, as well as other efforts to ensure that climate change mitigation is fully considered during the infrastructure planning process, the government will support the use of lower-carbon materials, services and climate-conscious decision making during the procurement process. For example, the Province is considering how requiring Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), which provide information on the life-cycle environmental impact of a product or material, could be an early step to support evidence-based infrastructure procurement processes and decisions.
In particular, the IJPA requires the government to minimize the impact of infrastructure on the environment, as well as make efforts to use acceptable recycled aggregates. The use of recycled aggregates and other low-carbon materials can reduce the GHG impact of infrastructure construction and the province’s overall carbon footprint. For example, low-carbon concretes can reduce the GHG impact of infrastructure construction.
Developing and integrating tools, such as LCA and the social cost of carbon, to measure and consider the climate implications of infrastructure decisions will help support the Province’s efforts to promote and build capacity for climate-conscious decision making across government. This capacity will help facilitate a stronger consideration and understanding of the complexities of low-carbon opportunities. For example, some construction materials may have a low environmental impact during extraction and production, but the transportation impacts could negate any environmental benefit. At the same time, LCA, and the underlying data that supports it, are evolving areas of expertise, which in some cases yield variations in the interpretation of impacts from different products and processes. This can complicate direct comparisons of the relative environmental impacts of certain materials, processes, products and projects. The government will take an evidence-based approach to help manage these areas of uncertainty.
Climate change adaptation
Climate change impacts pose a threat to Ontario’s infrastructure networks and the communities that depend on them. Improving the government’s capacity to adapt to current and future impacts of climate change will build Ontario’s resilience. It can also reduce the need for new or upgraded infrastructure by avoiding repair and replacement costs. For example, leveraging natural vegetation, such as existing wetlands, to improve stormwater management, can sometimes avoid the need for traditional infrastructure entirely.
Infrastructure investments require the application of a “risk lens” to protect their future. Infrastructure planning, design and construction require an understanding of future climatic conditions, vulnerabilities and potential risks to ensure that infrastructure, and infrastructure budgets, will not be compromised by climate change impacts.
The Ontario government is already working to address adaptation needs through risk assessments, criteria for municipal funding programs and infrastructure procurement processes.
The Province is taking additional steps to address climate change and its impacts on infrastructure. It is establishing a new organization that will provide municipalities, Indigenous communities, and businesses with up-to-date and critical information and data, as well as practical services to build resilience and help keep Ontarians safe. This information will also help government make evidence-based investment decisions to build resilient infrastructure across Ontario.
The Province will also be undertaking a provincial climate change risk assessment to help build a better understanding of the current and anticipated climate change impacts facing Ontario and help to provide a better understanding of the vulnerabilities and risks facing Ontario’s communities, infrastructure, ecosystems and economy. Infrastructure planning and investment based on the outcomes of this risk assessment will allow for a more strategic approach to adaptation by government, helping ensure that decisions are evidence-based and resilient. This will save Ontarians and the Ontario government money in the long term.
Ontario-led efforts to increase resilience will be achieved in a variety of ways, including through climate change–related policies in infrastructure asset plans, investment directives and decisions, and land-use planning direction such as the Provincial Policy Statement (2014) and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2017). Ontario will also work with federal, provincial, municipal and Indigenous partners to learn from best practices and harmonize adaptation strategies, standards and tools.
Low carbon building skills
As part of Ontario's Climate Change Action Plan, the Province is investing $24 million in 2017–18 (funded from the proceeds of the province’s carbon market) to develop a Low Carbon Building Skills (LCBS) initiative. The initiative is intended to improve training, workforce and technical capacity to ensure Ontario’s workforce has the skills needed to deliver on the priority of reducing energy use and carbon emissions. LCBS activities will support training providers, including colleges and universities, unions, employers and other industry stakeholders, to acquire new equipment and to increase their capacity to train current and future workers in low carbon building skills, through:
- sector-focused partnerships to support training programs in green building skills
- new and upgraded facilities and more capacity to support green building skills training
- new green curriculum for apprentices
- research on green labour force and skills needs
Enabling community hubs
As the government makes infrastructure investments, it is moving away from single-use facilities to an integrated multiple-uses approach — for example, schools or postsecondary education facilities that can accommodate child-care centres or community hubs, or that can support service-delivery integration with community-support programming in areas of demand. These projects allow a community-led, government-enabled environment to thrive.
The government is looking at how it can prioritize infrastructure projects based on co-location and support for integrated service-delivery models. Community hubs are one important tool to integrate planning and service delivery.
A community hub can be a school, a neighbourhood centre, a cultural organization or another public space (e.g., a library, a community museum) that offers co-located or integrated services, such as housing, children’s services, Indigenous community services, seniors’ housing, health care, employment and training, education and poverty reduction. Each hub is as unique as the community it serves. Community hubs can also provide infrastructure for settlement supports for new immigrants and important community supports to integrate newcomers into communities throughout the province.
Community hubs bring strong social and economic benefits to a community. For decades, local champions and partners in Ontario have been coming together to create hubs in response to community needs. Today, community hubs across the province offer a wide range of services through a variety of models reflecting the diversity of Ontario. The Province is committed to developing community hubs to bring services together in one place and to make better use of public spaces to serve Ontarians.
The development of community hubs is about enabling civic engagement with new and non-traditional partners, using new ways of thinking and accessing technology to contribute to the economic competitiveness of communities, fostering social cohesion and strengthening neighbourhood liveability. Supporting the development of community hubs will place Ontario at the forefront of a movement to redefine and revitalize the government’s shared places and spaces that is essential to the continued success and well-being of Ontario’s diverse communities.
In 2015, the Premier’s Community Hubs Advisory Group released Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan. It included 27 recommendations related to improving the use of public properties and integrated planning focused on community needs. The government accepted all the recommendations.
Being able to access multiple services under one roof can make everyday life easier for Ontario’s families. Through our community hubs initiative, our communities have spoken loudly and clearly about the importance of protecting public assets where there is demonstrated public need. Accordingly, the province is intending to move forward with a Social Purpose Real Estate strategy that embeds community and social needs into government decision making on surplus properties and infrastructure planning.
Ontario is strongly committed to enabling the development of community hubs and removing barriers to their creation and growth. The government is currently:
- redesigning the Community Health Capital Program policy, which streamlines funding applications and expands funding eligibility to support the co-location and integration of multiple health and social services under one roof
- doubling the funding under the Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) initiative, with the IAH funding targeted to provincial priority areas, including affordable housing projects that support community hubs
- significantly increasing capital funding for schools, including funding specifically targeted to supporting the use of schools as community hubs, with eligibility for funding expanded in ways that will support replacement space for community hubs when schools are closed or sold
- exploring the use of innovative financing models for community hubs, including social-enterprise, social-finance and public-private partnership models
- assessing options to improve Infrastructure Ontario’s lending capacity for community hubs
- supporting the Surplus Property Transition Initiative, which provides financial support, if needed, to hold surplus public properties in the public domain for up to 18 months, allowing proponents time to develop business cases for proposed community hubs
Supporting modern service delivery
Globalization, technological advancement and the emergence of the digital economy are changing the nature of service delivery in Ontario — and around the world. Ontario’s knowledge-based economy is becoming increasingly reliant on technology, as businesses embrace new innovations that require more data, transmitted at faster speeds.
New, disruptive technologies, such as mobile Internet, the Internet of Things, cloud-based computing, advanced robotics, automated vehicles and artificial intelligence, are advancing rapidly every day. These technologies and others — many that are yet to be developed — will change the way the government works and people live in the future, in ways no one can predict today.
Taking a proactive approach to technological innovation is key to Ontario’s economic growth and future prosperity. Ontario has been recognized as an emerging leader in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), automatic-production and financial-services — and it remains at the forefront for the advancement of disruptive technologies. It also continues to produce some of the best talent in the world.
It is important to leverage these strengths, while adapting and growing to remain competitive in the evolving global economy. To do so, Ontario’s businesses will require widely available, reliable, fast and affordable access to digital infrastructure. As the government invests in broadband infrastructure, it must ensure that the technology is future-ready and will still be relevant in 20 years.
Day-to-day activities, such as working, learning and communicating, will increasingly require advanced telecommunication services that are accessible to all Ontarians. Furthermore, the government recognizes that broadband connectivity will continue to be essential to enable meaningful civic engagement, inclusive growth, economic development and access to government and public services.
The Province is committed to building a foundation of digital infrastructure — including accessible, affordable, high-speed broadband networks — that will enable Ontarians to live, participate and compete in the digital world. Leveraging these new technologies, and ensuring connectivity across Ontario, will also help provide modern services that meet Ontarians’ needs.
Broadband in Ontario
Although Ontario’s broadband Internet service levels are among the highest in Canada, there is still room for improvement, for example, in Ontario’s northern and remote communities.
Source: CRTC Data Collection.
The Province is committed to expanding broadband infrastructure and improving connectivity in both rural and urban communities, including First Nations, across the province:
- Since 2007, the Province has committed close to $490 million toward broadband investments across Ontario.
- Provincial investment has encouraged Ontario’s Internet Service Providers to address broadband service gaps through more than 60 projects. Two major regional projects in northwestern and eastern Ontario were completed in 2014–15.
- The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) continues to partner on investments in broadband coverage or service expansion projects in the North.
- In July 2016, the Province announced that Ontario and Canada would each invest up to $90 million toward the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project, a fibre-optic network that will improve high-speed Internet connectivity across southwestern Ontario when complete.
- Ontario is also investing in a number of initiatives that are dependent on a reliable broadband infrastructure backbone. One example is the Vector Institute, a new institute for artificial intelligence that will ensure businesses in the province continue to stay ahead in the innovation economy, and attract investment and top talent.
The Province will continue to work with the federal government to emphasize the importance of broadband as a key element in current and future federal infrastructure investment programs.
The Government of Ontario also continues to engage with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the public authority in charge of regulating Canadian telecommunications. In 2016, the Province strongly supported the CRTC’s decision to declare broadband a basic service. The government was also pleased to participate in public consultations to inform the design of the CRTC’s new $750-million broadband development fund — created to support the development of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas.
The Government of Ontario is committed to working with its federal, municipal, private-sector and First Nations partners to ensure Ontario has the best possible broadband infrastructure to support jobs and growth across the province, including by prioritizing the need for co-ordinated and strategic investments in broadband.
Working with federal and municipal orders of government and First Nations, the Province will prioritize the need for co-ordinated and strategic investments as it continues to expand broadband infrastructure and improve connectivity in communities across the province. This will include working towards developing a broadband strategy that will outline a vision for broadband connectivity, identify key priorities and outline a roadmap to achieving them, including leveraging private sector expertise and financing, as well as federal cooperation through the Canada Infrastructure Bank. A draft broadband strategy will be developed for consultation in 2018.
The government is also committed to investing in cutting-edge technology by supporting research and development of transformative technologies. For example, 5G (fifth-generation) wireless technology aims to increase telecommunications network capacity and speed by up to 1,000 times for mobile and connected devices. It will serve as the backbone infrastructure for technologies such as automated vehicles.
Smart Cities in Ontario
Sustainable and efficient Smart Cities rely on connectivity. They integrate technology and big data with municipal processes to foster economic growth, enhance service delivery and improve quality of life. While the concept continues to evolve, Smart Cities of the future will have the potential to address important issues, such as equity, governance, climate change and resilience.
Smart City initiatives may also foster the development of smart infrastructure — infrastructure systems that are connected to the Internet of Things, and able to sense, interact and respond directly to user needs. Smart infrastructure holds the potential to enhance real-time data collection and analysis, improve the efficiency and environmental impact of existing assets (such as roads, buildings and electric grids) and support Ontario’s advancement in future technologies — energy, water or waste management systems.
The Province recognizes the potential benefits of investing in Smart City initiatives in Ontario. It supports the federal government’s $300-million commitment to launch the Smart Cities Challenge — a nationwide, merit-based competition that will support communities that are developing innovative Smart City projects. As the Province engages with its federal partners on this new initiative, it will also explore the best ways to support Ontario municipalities in promoting innovation, collaboration and technology in community practices.
Working with partners
All infrastructure is local, and people interact with infrastructure in their local communities. In planning infrastructure investments, the Province is working very closely with communities to make sure that the government makes the right infrastructure planning decisions — that is, having the right type of infrastructure in the right place and ready at the right time. In Ontario’s infrastructure planning, the Ontario government works closely with the province’s 444 municipalities, the federal government and First Nations.
Municipal and regional governments
Municipalities and regions are drivers of economic development and major infrastructure operators. Therefore, regional co-ordination and planning is important. For example, Metrolinx plays an important role in both regional transit planning and service delivery in the GTHA.
We recognize that municipalities are important partners in planning and building the critical infrastructure on which the people of Ontario rely. That is why we are supporting communities in making smart, sustainable investments in infrastructure such as roads, bridges, public transit and water-management systems.
Improved asset management planning has been a key objective of Ontario’s Municipal Infrastructure Strategy since 2012. The strategy provides a framework for the Province to work collaboratively with municipalities and the federal government to help address the challenges of current and emerging municipal infrastructure needs. The strategy commits the province to making progress in the following three areas:
- universal asset management planning and public reporting
- optimal use of the full range of budgeting and infrastructure financing tools
- attention to the structural challenges confronting small municipalities
Since the launch of the strategy, the Province has been working with municipalities to make asset management planning the foundation of infrastructure investments. It started with Building Together: Guide to Municipal Asset Management Plans, and offered seed funding to help municipalities prepare their asset management plans.
Over time, provincial funding programs for municipal infrastructure have required communities to demonstrate a growing commitment to asset management. In addition, the Province has been developing the funding model to focus more on stable and predictable formula-based grants to help municipalities plan and turn their plans into action.
Municipalities have made considerable progress on asset management planning. Today, almost all municipalities have an asset management plan. This is a great achievement in a brief period. At the same time, many municipalities still face significant infrastructure challenges.
The Province is working to develop a municipal asset management planning regulation to further improve practices and support the long-term sustainability of municipal infrastructure throughout Ontario. In addition, the proposed regulation would help put in place a common approach to identify and define unfunded municipal infrastructure investment needs. This is the next phase of the Municipal Infrastructure Strategy, and it will address the strategy’s first step: universal asset management planning and public reporting.
The government’s proposed municipal asset management planning regulation includes a commitment for municipalities to consider:
- the actions that may be required to address the risks to the municipality’s infrastructure assets caused by climate change
- any mitigation approaches to climate change, such as goals and targets for reducing GHG emissions
- disaster planning and any required contingency funding
The proposed regulation would also support enhanced data analysis. The data collected could help the Province and municipalities collaboratively address structural challenges and make better use of the full range of funding resources and financing tools. This is aligned with the second and third policy goals of the Municipal Infrastructure Strategy. For example, this could include distributing provincial funding in a more evidence-based way. It could also involve targeted solutions to help address the unique challenges faced by individual communities or regions.
Ontario appreciates the investments that the federal government is making in provincial infrastructure. The federal government has made a commitment to invest over $180 billion in infrastructure across the country. This includes investing $11.9 billion nationally over five years in Phase One and $81 billion nationally over 11 years in Phase Two of the Investing in Canada Plan.
The Government of Ontario is committed to working in partnership with its federal counterparts on Phase Two of Canada’s Infrastructure Plan to create jobs and produce a stronger economy. The government is actively participating in the federal government’s long-term infrastructure-plan engagement process.
Currently, the Province is in bilateral negotiations with the federal government to finalize the implementation of Ontario’s allocation for the next phase of public transit, green infrastructure funding, community cultural and recreation and rural and Northern funding. The federal government has set a goal of finalizing these negotiations by March 31, 2018.
Results of the partnership can already be seen in the recent priority projects that have received joint federal and provincial funding under Phase Two:
- The $1.25-billion Toronto’s Port Lands Flood Protection Project will receive a federal government contribution of up to $384 million and a provincial contribution of over $400 million. These investments build on the $65 million in funding - $16.5 million from the City of Toronto and Province each, $32 million from the federal government — previously committed through the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund and will increase the resiliency of the Port Lands by protecting them from flooding and support the potential for future mixed-use development.
- The federal government and the Province have each committed over $1 billion in capital funding to the Ottawa Light Rail Transit Stage 2 Project, which will build on the Trillium Line (O-Train) and the Stage 1 Confederation Line LRT project by extending the LRT network to the east, west and south regions of the city.
Ontario applauds the federal government for establishing the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB). The Province shares its goals of investing in infrastructure projects that will contribute to long-term economic growth, create good, well-paying jobs, lower GHG emissions and build socially inclusive communities.
CIB funding will help Ontario to invest in large infrastructure projects that, otherwise, would be difficult to undertake.
We are also working with our federal and municipal partners to focus on the needs of small, rural and Northern communities to develop and renew their infrastructure. This includes roads and other transportation, bridge, water and wastewater projects and expanded broadband Internet service to better connect communities.
In order to maximize infrastructure investments by all three orders of government, it is important for municipalities, provinces and the federal government to work together to align their efforts. Ontario believes that federal infrastructure funding should support provincial and municipal government priorities and commitments. Based on the results of Phase 1 infrastructure negotiations, the Council of the Federation, comprised of the Premiers of all 13 Canadian provinces and territories, agreed to seven principles to guide negotiations with the federal government on future infrastructure programs. These principles, which were agreed to on July 19, 2017 are:
- Federal funding, including through the Canadian Infrastructure Bank, must allow provinces and territories to fund planned priorities and commitments.
- Federal investments should be flexible enough to support a range of projects, from small to large.
- Federal funding should not result in additional fiscal pressure on provinces and territories, and municipalities, including cost-matching.
- Federal funding should be flexible and contribute towards advancing critical planning, environmental assessment, and design phases of infrastructure projects.
- Funds should be flowed directly to provinces and territories, and respect their existing relationships with municipalities.
- Agreement administration and reporting requirements should be streamlined, reasonable and appropriately resourced. Those requirements should recognize provinces and territories’ existing reporting mechanisms.
- Agreements should be global (not project by project) and provide sufficient flexibility to re-profile funding between programs to align with investment priorities and respond to areas of greatest infrastructure need.
Ontario has worked with its provincial and territorial counterparts to advocate for these principles to guide ongoing negotiations and to ensure that investments realized through new agreements build on existing provincial and territorial commitments. In this context, the principles of transparency, accountability, fairness and collaboration are critical, including to encourage effective and streamlined delivery.
The Government of Ontario looks forward to continuing to work with the federal government to provide sustained long-term infrastructure investment in the province in line with these principles.
The goal of inclusive growth is to benefit all Ontarians. Indigenous involvement in infrastructure projects is increasing, affording Indigenous peoples greater roles in infrastructure development ranging from training and employment opportunities to being equity partners. Supporting economic development in First Nations communities is one of many steps on Ontario's journey of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. It reflects the government's commitment to work with Indigenous partners, creating a better future for everyone in the province.
The Chiefs of Ontario and the Government of Ontario have signed a political accord that guides the relationship between First Nations and the Province. The accord affirms that First Nations have an inherent right to self-government and that the relationship between Ontario and the First Nations must respect this right. Ontario is continuing to work with its Indigenous partners to ensure a better future for First Nations, Métis and Inuit People in the province. The Province is committed to collaborating with Indigenous partners, particularly where capital investments can help address the needs of their communities.
The Province provides funding to Indigenous communities for their infrastructure needs through programs such as the Indigenous Community Capital Grants Program, the Small Communities Fund and the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund. The Province also works with Indigenous organizations to provide services, such as housing, to Indigenous people living in other communities off-reserve and in urban centres.
The Province is committed to working with the federal government and Indigenous partners to achieve real progress toward improving infrastructure in Indigenous communities.
Keeping Ontarians informed
Evidence-based decision making includes transparency in setting priorities. Ontario is committed to being Canada’s most open and transparent government. In 2013, the government launched the Open Government initiative. It has made available more data and information to give the people of Ontario new and improved ways to engage in policy making. It has increased openness, transparency and accountability, and boosted innovation and economic productivity.
Through the IJPA, the government committed to make information about its long-term infrastructure investments available publicly. It is doing this in multiple ways.
- footnote Back to paragraph From Government of Ontario.
- footnote Back to paragraph From City of Toronto.
- footnote Back to paragraph From Major public infrastructure projects are expansion, renewal or replacement projects undertaken or funded by ministries that have a significant capital cost to government; that carry significant risk for the province; or that are otherwise of a significant provincial interest. As per the current Directive for Major Public Infrastructure Projects (2015), major projects would include any infrastructure projects with capital costs (excluding property acquisition) greater than $50 million for transportation expansion, or $75 million for transportation rehabilitation, or $20 million for all other sectors.
- footnote Back to paragraph FromInsurance Bureau of Canada.
- footnote Back to paragraph From Insurance Bureau of Canada.