Investing in Infrastructure
On June 4, 2018, the Province of Manitoba and the Government of Canada announced together that they would be investing $1.1 Billion into local infrastructure projects. This investment is a welcome announcement to municipalities, who are responsible for 60% of public infrastructure.
Finding effective ways to invest these funds for the greatest impact on public infrastructure will now be the challenge.
The investment strategy will focus on various priorities, and plans on providing support to transit and active transportation, digital communication, cultural and recreational development, remote and northern communities, and green infrastructure.
Including green infrastructure as a focus could be an interesting element of the plan because of its potential to create innovative opportunities and save money in the long-term. According to a study by the American Society of Landscape Architects, exploring and investing in green infrastructure could more effectively utilize billions of dollars each year. It found that investment made in green infrastructure often offers significant returns on investment while addressing many community needs simultaneously.
So what is green infrastructure? According to Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition, green infrastructure is technology that utilizes the natural system and its processes, the natural assets of a community or region, to “do the work” or mimic what the hard investment or traditional infrastructure typically does.
This can include many things like: engineered and natural wetlands, bioswales, storm water ponds, and permeable pavements to increase water capture, or green roofs and walls to reduce building energy use.
Although green options are often viewed as having higher costs, many studies have found that green infrastructure projects often cost the same as traditional infrastructure and in some instances these investments may even cost less. Green infrastructure can be an effective way to address infrastructure needs, while also reducing overall costs in the long-term resulting in cost savings that can outweigh traditional infrastructure investment.
With the investment recently announced, municipalities in Manitoba will have the opportunity to think about infrastructure differently and make decisions that could be fiscally, socially, and environmentally beneficial.