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February 11, 2011

Chiarelli trumpets Liberals’ record on infrastructure in Ontario

When it comes to construction opportunities and infrastructure growth, the current Ontario Liberal government has delivered, says the province’s infrastructure minister.

“If your business is infrastructure, you will know this government has come to the table like no other government in decades,” said Bob Chiarelli, Ontario’s infrastructure minister to Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA) members at their recent convention in Toronto.

“Although stimulus funding is winding down, vital work continues.

We will continue to build upon our great record and our 10-year infrastructure plan, which we hope to roll out sometime this spring.”

Chiarelli said that Ontario’s roads and highways are a key contributor to the provinces economy and quality of life, noting that $1.2 trillion of goods are transported on them annually.

Bob Chiarelli

Bob Chiarelli

Since 2003, the province has invested $13 billion in highway infrastructure, building over 550 kilometres (km) of new highways, and rehabilitating 5,000 km of existing roads. The construction, repair and rehabilitation of the province’s roads has created or sustained 90,000 jobs, he said.

In six years ending March 2011, Chiarelli said the province will have invested $60 billion in infrastructure, not including energy investments. The last two years of the government’s stimulus initiative has created and supported more than 300,000 jobs overall. In 2010, Ontario gained 20,000 construction jobs.

“That says to me there is a whole cluster of infrastructure activity in this province today that did not exist before or on the scale that it is now,” said Chiarelli.

Current highway widening projects such as highways 7 and 417 in Ottawa, Highway 8 in Kitchener-Waterloo and Highway 406 in Welland are examples of continued road construction opportunities, he said.

The use of alternative finance and procurement will help deliver the Windsor-Essex parkway and the extension of Highway 407 east to Highway 35/115. Chiarelli said the province is committed to the Highway 407 extension.

“We’ve been assembling land and held negotiations with the First Nations on that issue,” said Chiarelli. “The commitment is there, but we need to do it in a thoughtful, responsible, affordable way.”

The province’s 10-year infrastructure plan will fuel and support the Ontario economy and shape its quality of life, said Chiarelli.

“It’s particularly important to plan for the long-term now because much of Ontario’s infrastructure is reaching the end of its lifespan, bridges being a good example of that,” said Chiarelli. “A lot of bridges are being paid attention in the consideration of the 10-year plan.”

He said he understands that some associations, like ORBA, would like to see more short term predictable funding with stimulus funding soon ending, to help “avoid the feast or famine cycle that had traditionally affected roadbuilding.”

“We are looking closely at this issue and options for dealing with it, there will definitely be no famine if we can help it.”

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