In defence of infrastructure

I can’t seem to figure out why governments will pour hundreds of millions into highway infrastructure each year but hardly a penny into ports, railroads, telecommunications and even energy infrastructure. I guess a few municipalities are investing in small wireless networks but overall it seems that the word ‘infrastructure’ has a very limited definition in Fredericton and Ottawa.

The truth is that while highways are important so are other forms of infrastructure. Quebec has invested millions in its railroads, hundreds of millions in its port (s). Ireland is building industrial parks with spec. buildings in the hinterland.

Even NB in the good old days was investing broadly in infrastructure. Like it or not both the Lepreau and Belledune power plants were built for economic development purposes. Now we hear that Lepreau 2 is likely to be all private sector and market rates. NBTel was a leader in Canada at rolling out fibre optics/digital. Now, as Aliant, I hear there are sufficient gaps in the network such that real data centres are an unlikely alternative for attraction to New Brunswick.

It’s funny. Health care ‘infrastructure’ is a right and beyond discussion but economic development infrastructure is considered by many a needless waste of government investment.

And, in many ways, we are witnessing the results of that attitude. But look at the bright side. We’ll have great highways and shiny new hospitals.