Guest Blog: Influencing How Ottawa Plans for Rural Infrastructure Spending

Date: May 30, 2017

Ryan Gibson, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, shares his experience presenting to the Senate Committee on National Finance:

How well does Ottawa understand the challenges and opportunities related to rural infrastructure? Do policy makers recognize the differences between rural and urban realities and requirements? With the federal government about to embark on a multi-year infrastructure initiative, rural researchers from across the country took the opportunity to share insights from recent research with parliamentarians.  

On May 3, 2017, I had the opportunity to share rural perspectives to the Senate Committee on National Finance on behalf of three organizations: the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, the Rural Development Institute at Brandon University, and the Rural Policy Learning Commons. The Senate committee is studying the design and delivery of the federal government's infrastructure commitment. The appearance at the Senate Committee meeting allowed rural voices, rural experiences, and rural realities to be shared with the hopes that it will influence how the federal government moves forward with infrastructure policies and programs.  

We collectively know that infrastructure is fundamental to the future viability, sustainability, and resilience of rural and northern communities in this country. Through the presentation to the Senate we were able to re-enforce the uniqueness of rural communities and why urban-based solutions do not work in rural. We provided the Senate eight recommendations for moving forward: long-term stable funding, long-term planning with asset management and full costing accounting, local decision-making, flexible programs to respond to rural diversity, resources directed towards capacity building, horizontal and vertical synergy in infrastructure priorities, long-term monitoring of projects and program, and making use of best available technology. The messages are not new, nor surprising. They are, however, critical for moving forward with rural infrastructure. 

The presentation focused on three key recent reports: The State of Rural Canada, Uncertain Foundations: Infrastructure in Rural Canada, and Policies and Policy Strategies for Addressing the Infrastructure Gap. The full presentation and dialogue with the Senate Committee can be found here: 

Blog post provided by Ryan Gibson, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph