There is a need to push for more action on the call for a significant increase to the federal government’s trade corridors fund, and Western Canadian business and construction industries can lead that campaign, the Board of the Western Canada Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association agreed on February 23.
The WCR&HCA spoke to the needs of investment in trade-enabling transportation infrastructure, in the West and across Canada, at its Annual General Meeting, where an annual report of activities and 2022 priorities were presented.
“We’ve made notable progress through 2021 on the proposal for a Western Canada Trade Gateway and Corridor Initiative, which calls for a $20-billion, 7-year investment by the federal government for trade corridors and gateways,” said WCR&HCA President Chris Lorenc.
“This initiative is gaining impressive support among business groups and in senior political offices regionally and at the national level. A recapitalization would allow Western Canada to push for investment in trade corridors in the region to raise the country’s profile and productivity in trade, particularly to Asia.”
Lorenc presented to the WCR&HCA Board of Directors the efforts through 2021 that has the WCTG&CI on the agendas of business and construction associations. Among those achievements were:
- Canadian Construction Association recognized the national value of the WCTG&CI. It added significant national leadership and support as an advocate of the WCTG&CI.
- CCA co-hosted, with the Export Development Canada and the WCR&HCA a September 8, 2021, forum at which 40+ national regional stakeholders participated in coalescing around the concept. This resulted in a WCTG&CI Executive Roundtable Discussion report under the logos of CCA, EDC and WCR&HCA
- CCA commissioned a report from the Canadian Center for Economic Analysis (CANCEA) a report called Trade and Transportation Infrastructure which produced data illustrating the direct ties between infrastructure investment, economic growth and returns to the GDP, and how Canada compares to its global trade competitor nations
- CCA pressed for recognition of increased trade infrastructure investment in its pre-budget submission to the federal government
- WCR&HCA co-signed with CCA a letter to the federal Minister of Transportation pressing for significant recapitalization of the trade corridors fund, support for the concept of a WCTG&CI, and a meeting with the minister in the near future
- A discussion is pending with senior representatives of the Manitoba government, to gain support for putting the WCTG&CI on the table at the 2023 Premiers’ Council of the Federation meeting.
The Board discussed progress to date on the WCR&HCA conference to be held at the Hilton Waikiki Resort, February 5- 9, 2023 in Oahu, Hawai’i, which is drawing a lot of interest from both potential sponsors and attendees. Lorenc said the branding and marketing materials are in the process of being finalized and information will likely be released in early April 2022.
The Board identified four broad areas of advocacy priority for 2022:
- Collaboratively with the CCA and other key stakeholders, promote WCTG&CI with the provincial and federal governments including its consideration at the 2023 meeting of the Council of the Federation.
- Harness the value of the pending Canada West Foundation report ‘From Shovel Ready to Shovel Worthy’ in support of the WCTG&CI.
- Build national awareness and consideration of Western Canadian issues and concerns by effective collaboration with the CCA; and
- Support delivery of successful WCR&HCA Conference Feb 5-9, 2023, including a program focus on WCTG&CI as an extension of its national advocacy work.
“We’re back together. It’s fantastic and the cohesion is outstanding,” Lorenc said. “The pandemic’s shutdown has been hard on industry’s ability to come together at conferences and the interest we are getting in this conference indicates a lot of pent-up demand and energy to resume this business and networking premier event.”
The WCR&HCA Board was re-elected, and its officers continue until the close of the 2023 conference. Greg Orbanski (MB) remains as Chair with Carmen Duncan (SK) as Vice-Chair.
“Maintaining the current directorships effectively allows us to proceed with some very high-profile, important WCR&HCA initiatives,” Orbanski said. “It means careful, steady stewardship of the trade gateways and corridors proposal and strong oversight of the WCR&HCA conference in early 2023.”
“This association of the four Western Canada roadbuilders groups has gained significant profile and interest regionally and nationally on very important issues facing the West, and we’re making real progress on them,” added Duncan.