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October 4, 2010

Consulting Engineers of Ontario launches infrastructure education campaign

TORONTO

As the province gears up for the Oct. 25 municipal elections, Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) is launching a province-wide campaign to educate voters about infrastructure.

“Citizens need to understand that water, bridges, transit, energy and even aspects of healthcare are infrastructure issues directly impacted by political decision-making,” said president Barry Steinberg.

“It is near impossible to cast an informed ballot without this knowledge and votes decide who makes decisions and sets priorities in coming years.”

Called 2110: Think Long-Term, Ontario!, the campaign is intended to help people decipher what is being said about infrastructure, what it means to them and why they need to think long-term.

“The cost of infrastructure is paid for by generations,” said Steinberg. “We would like to see Ontarians be more forward-thinking so future generations will not bear the brunt of short-term decisions.

“This is not a four-year consideration; it is a 50- to 100-year consideration.”

In a news release, CEO said the goal is to have people consider that:

Core and social infrastructure affect lives on a daily basis. Core infrastructure includes roads, bridges and public transit as well as “invisible” facilities such as electrical distribution systems, water pipes or treatment plants. Social infrastructure includes arenas, recreation centres and universities.

Population growth in Ontario’s urban centres will require expanded infrastructure to accommodate newcomers.

Most Ontario schools were built in the 1920s and are in need of re-investment. Similarly, the province’s roads are in need of repair and expansion as well as water pipes that were installed as far back as the early 1900s.

Infrastructure is largely paid for with the public purse and costs increase when investment is deferred.

According to a 2007 Federation of Canadian Municipalities study, Canada’s municipal infrastructure deficit rests at $123 billion. The province of Ontario is estimated to have an overall infrastructure deficit of $100 billion.

“When people turn on their taps, they expect water to come out,” Steinberg said. “When they turn on their TV, they expect electricity. We don’t see, or often care, what is bringing the water or electricity to our homes and businesses until there is a problem. “That needs to change and that is the goal of 2110: Think Long-Term, Ontario!”

Consulting Engineers of Ontario is a non-profit association representing more than 225 engineering firms across Ontario employing more than 18,000 people.

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