We yammer on quite a bit about infrastructure at prairie dog. In the post WWII period cities across North America experienced mega building booms fueled by factors like urbanization, the proliferation of automobiles and general post-war prosperity that saw tons of families that had formerly resided in inner city neighbourhoods decamp to sprawling suburbs.
All sorts of infrastructure that was built to accommodate that growth spurt, stuff like expressways, overpasses, bridges, sewer and water systems, is now 50 or more years old and is in desperate need of repair and replacement. In Canada, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimates the infrastructure deficit at $130 billion.
That’s a shitload pile of money. And to make matters worse, people are still wedded pretty strongly to the idea of suburban dream homes so cities are still expanding outward. Through development fees, municipal governments are able to cover their ass for the initial infrastructure costs. But once a suburb is built, the city is on the hook for future maintenance of the infrastructure and eventual replacement.
In a city like Regina in particular, with hugely challenging soil and climate conditions, that’s a recipe for financial ruin. To try to get a grip on the problem, Regina is hosting a National Infrastructure Summit. It runs Jan. 26-28, and will feature all sorts of speakers and panel discussions on various aspects of the infrastructure dilemma from accounting and planning strategies to citizen engagement and best practices that have been adopted by other cities.
prairie dog has been granted media access, so look for daily reports on the summit as it progresses. And for more info visit: www.nisummit2011.ca