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Canadas infrastructure near ‘collapse’: study

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Canadas aging infrastructure is near collapse according to a report by the Federation of Canadian ...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Canadas aging infrastructure is near collapse according to a report by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

A new report from federation president Gord Steeves says the country has used up 79% of the service life of its roads, bridges, water-and-sewage systems and other vital infrastructure and it will cost $123 billion to stave off disaster, according to an article in the Toronto Star.

The report said that signs of collapse are all around, including boil-water advisories and cracks in the pavement which become potholes.

Steeves said municipalities can’t afford to fix the problem on their own, but that action must be taken quickly to prevent catastrophic failures.

The $123-billion estimate includes “sub-deficits” for key categories: water and wastewater systems ($31 billion), transportation ($21.7 billion), transit ($22.8 billion), solid-waste management ($7.7 billion) and community, recreational, cultural and social infrastructure ($40.2 billion), according to the Star.

Saeed Mirza of McGill University’s department of civil engineering and applied mechanics was in charge of the team which conducted the study and said the pace of decay is accelerating faster than was previously thought, according to Star reports.

The FCM report indicated the infrastructure deficit has almost tripled in 10 years, with most municipal infrastructure having been built between the 1950s and the 1970s.

Steeves is calling for a national plan to fix the infrastructure problem, adding that continued delay is unthinkable.

The FCM report said one of the key causes for the rapid decay of infrastructure is that governments put off maintenance during the economic hard times of the 1970s and 1980s, said the Stars report.

Some of the decayed structures are past the point where they can be refurbished and they have to be decommissioned, demolished and replaced, according to the Star, adding to the costs.

The FCM report is blaming tax distribution as the root of the problem, with not enough money available for municipalities to fix their infrastructure woes. The report is urging the federal and provincial government to provide more money to struggling municipalities.

–with files from the Toronto Star

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