5 green infrastructure projects recommended by engineers to stimulate the economic recovery of COVID-19


With at least two million jobs lost across Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy officially in recession, the federal government expects the federal government to revitalize the economy.To date, the government has spent more than $ 145 billion in direct support to Canadians related to COVID-19.

Beyond what has already been promised for stimulus, experts say that additional investments in infrastructure, particularly related to clean technology, are one of the best ways to get people back to work and leave a lasting legacy.

Following the Great Recession of 2008, for example, Washington provided US $ 983 billion in stimulus spending, but received few faster trains or better infrastructure, according to figures presented by Graham Allison, professor at Harvard University and former senior advisor to the US government in his book Destined for war: can America and China escape Thucydides’ trap?

China, on the other hand, has used its stimulus to build a high-speed rail network and other large projects, Aillson noted.

To create tangible long-term benefits and get people back to work, here are five recovery engineers, clean energy advocates and other experts who should be launched.

Charging stations for electric vehicles

Transportation accounts for 25% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to government data.

Many consumers are keen to switch to electric vehicles – but who wants to own a car that you cannot drive on a long journey due to a lack of charging stations on major highways?

“This is a chicken and egg situation,” said Kasun Hewage, a professor of engineering at the University of British Columbia, in an interview. “People don’t buy electric cars because they are concerned about infrastructure. ”

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The government has announced funding of $ 130 million over five years ending in 2024 to develop a national charging network.

But that will not be enough to create enough charging stations to allow someone to drive an electric car from coast to coast, said Hewage, and the private sector is currently worried about implementing the supplement. cash for installation.

Bruce MacKay, Managing Director of Hatch, an engineering firm based in Mississauga, Ontario, said current charging station programs could be rolled out more quickly if subsidies for electric cars were reintroduced by provinces like the And that gasoline taxes were going up.

“A standardized and major deployment of electric charging stations … would accelerate the conversion of the vehicle fleet into electric vehicles,” said McKay.

Building a network covering 25%, 50% and 100% of the country would cost approximately $ 1 billion, $ 2 billion and $ 5 billion, respectively, Hewage said.

Cost: About $ 5 billion for electric charging stations to cover the whole country, said Hewage.

A fast-charging electric vehicle charging station is seen in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, in 2017. (Andrew Vaughan / The Canadian Press)

Improved water management

Climate change is expected to exacerbate flooding across Canada, and current water infrastructure – particularly in big cities like Toronto and Montreal – is not ready for additional pressures.

“Canada’s wastewater management system has a $ 50 billion deficit,” said Rehan Sadiq, professor of civil engineering at the University of British Columbia. “This is a major component of green infrastructure in terms of climate resilience and the well-being of Canadians.”

Repairing and improving aging pipes, sewage systems and treatment facilities would be a great way to create jobs and meet environmental goals, he added.

Water infrastructure normally belongs to municipal governments, but they often lack the money for improvements, said Sadiq.

The federal government has spent money to improve the system, he said, but the funding could use an extra shot in the arm. Provinces and municipalities could also pledge new funds if the federal government kicks off, he said.

Cost: $ 3 billion initially from the federal government, Sadiq estimated.

Items like this building were surrounded or covered by water during the 2017 St. John River flood in Fredericton. Project expert floods will worsen in much of the country as climate change increases. step up. (Stephen MacGillivray / The Canadian Press)

Energy efficient homes

The provinces are currently spending about $ 1 billion a year on grants and other programs to make homes more energy efficient, according to calculations by Efficiency Canada, an advocacy organization based in Ottawa.

For this funding, about 0.6% of buildings in Canada can be renovated annually, said Brendan Haley, group policy director.

“It could be greatly increased,” he said in an interview. He said it would not create a new bureaucracy because provincial programs, assessment criteria and disbursement plans for grants or homeowners’ loans already exist.

Energy consumption in homes and buildings accounts for 17% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to government data.

The total cost of renovating every building in Canada by 2050, a change necessary to meet climate change commitments, would be approximately $ 300 billion, said Haley.

Energy retrofits for most homes include techniques such as: installing better insulation, improving windows to reduce heat loss, installing a zero carbon heating system and, in some cases, solar panels.

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As a job creation strategy, renovating old buildings is particularly effective, said Haley, as about 60% of the cost of a renovation is spent on labor.

With residential construction expected to drop by about a third this year compared to 2019 due to the pandemic, keeping construction workers on the job with improvements makes economic sense, said Hewage.

“Go small”: $ 11 billion in seed capital for a green infrastructure bank, $ 500 million for training new workers.

“Going big” costs: $ 300 billion over the next 15 years, Haley said.

Harbor Grace, N.L., city engineer Pat Hearn stands on an aging bridge in 2017. Many bridges in Canada are in urgent need of repair, engineers said. (Paul Daly / The Canadian Press)

Rebuild bridges, roads and tunnels

Overall, Canada’s infrastructure deficit exceeds $ 150 billion, according to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, a coalition of municipal governments.

After the Second World War and the 1950s, Canada spent about 3% of GDP on infrastructure, up from about 0.4% today, said Sadiq of the UBC.

This lack of spending means that the quality of the main transport links is deteriorating, leading to safety fears and increased travel times, among other problems.

For bridges, tunnels and roads, the infrastructure deficit is around $ 28 billion, said Shahria Alam, associate professor of engineering at UBC.

Forty percent of the bridges and roads are not in good condition and about 10,000 bridges require immediate attention, he added.

Cost: An initial investment of about $ 3 billion from the federal government, said Alam.

An abandoned asbestos mine is presented in Thetford Mines, Quebec, in 2017. (Lia Levesque / La Presse canadienne)

Clean old mines, wells

The federal government recently announced $ 1.7 billion to help clean up orphaned and abandoned oil and gas wells in western Canada.

A similar program should be launched for abandoned mines, said Sandro Perruzza, CEO of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers.

In Ontario alone, there are about 5,000 known abandoned mines, closed before 1991, that have no current owners, he said.

“These abandoned sites are a huge environmental concern, such as the contamination of leachate runoff, and pose additional risks to the health and safety of surrounding communities,” Perruzza said in an interview.

Tackling this problem would improve the quality of land and water, especially in northern and rural communities, and employ thousands of people, he added.

Cost: In Ontario alone, at least $ 2.59 billion, said Peruzza.

A woman wearing a pandemic mask speaks on her phone in Toronto on April 28. (Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press)


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