Canada’s 2014 budget allocates C$1.3bn to infra

The Canadian government has earmarked an additional C$1.3bn for investment in public infra and transportation services in its 2014 budget.

The Economic Action Plan of 2014 that Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty presented earlier this week, puts the focus on jobs and growth with an allocation of C$1.3 billion (€867.3 million; $1.2 billion) that will be invested over a two-year period on a cash basis in the country’s infrastructure and transportation sectors.

The action plan also “confirms that the Government is on track to return to balanced budgets in 2015,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

Of the C$1.3 billion, C$470 million will be invested in the Windsor-Detroit International Crossing, a project that is being developed jointly by the Canadian government and the US state of Michigan as one point of entry is located in the US state of Michigan, while the other is in Windsor, Ontario.

According to Transport Canada, the government agency responsible for transportation policies and programmes, the Windsor-Detroit corridor is Canada’s most important trade artery and the busiest commercial land border crossing in North America, handling 28 percent of Canada-US trade.

The project will receive funding from Canada, which has already committed C$631 million, the US government and through a public-private partnership (PPP; P3).

The total cost of the project is yet to be determined as “it is too premature at this time to estimate,” Transport Canada spokesman Mark Butler told Infrastructure Investor in an e-mailed response.

A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is expected to be issued “late 2014, at the earliest,” he said.

The budget also allocated C$165 million for the construction of a new St. Lawrence bridge to replace the existing Champlain Bridge.

With C$20 billion worth of international trade crossing the bridge every year, the Champlain Bridge is also one of Canada’s busiest.

This project will also be delivered through a P3, which according to Transport Canada will be one of the largest infrastructure projects in North America.

On January 15, Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency for Canada for the Regions of Quebec, said the procurement process would begin with an RFQ being launched this spring. The new bridge is expected to be in service by 2018.

Another C$378 million over two years has also been earmarked for the repair and maintenance of federal bridges in the Greater Montreal Area, including the Champlain Bridge until the new bridge replaces it.

The C$1.3 billion infrastructure and transportation allocation is not limited only to surface transportation. It is also distributed over the same two-year period for the operation of ferry services; the repair and maintenance of small craft harbours across Canada; and for the divestiture of regional ports to local interests and the continued operation and maintenance of federally-owned ports.