Examining the Social Elements of Public Infrastructure
Impacts on Competitiveness and Implications for Governance
Client: Infrastructure Canada and the City of Ottawa
When: 2006 to 2009
This research project examines the nature and definition of infrastructure at the municipal level and how funding decisions are made to provide for it.
Infrastructure is generally conceived as 'hard' infrastructure such as primary roads and water treatment plants. More recently there has been a great deal of interest and discussion about 'soft' infrastructure like hospitals, community and recreational facilities, public spaces, social housing, volunteer networks and community based agencies. The term "infrastructure" is increasingly coming to include this "soft" or "social" infrastructure. This is because such infrastructure increases social cohesion in urban cores, resulting in stronger municipal and national economies.
The planned research will expand the current understanding of what “infrastructure” means in the context of sustainable urban development, and how investment in social infrastructure, including housing, influences and contributes to the economic vitality and competitiveness of a cross section of Canadian cities.
This research generates opportunities for the dissemination of knowledge to and involvement of municipal employees and elected officials from across Canada on issues related to infrastructure and the sustainability of their cities.
The project was funded through Infrastructure Canada Knowledge, Outreach and Awareness program. The City of Ottawa was the lead municipality, with case studies undertaken in Ottawa, Calgary, and Toronto.
Case study documentation and overall project summary and recommendations are being finalized and are expected to be completed early in 2009. A national workshop was held Ottawa to discuss the findings.