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Thinking About Infrastructure 2018: Querying the Infrastructure Gap

Wednesday April 25 - Thursday April 26 2018 Shaw Centre Ottawa, Ontario

Featured Speaker


The Hon. Amarjeet Sohi
Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
Infrastructure Canada

The infrastructure gap is in the news almost every day. It is a massive number that keeps on growing. What does this mean for decision making around infrastructure, and how can we respond to the gap?

Over the last few decades, a growing number of organizations have attempted to calculate Canada’s infrastructure gap. A reflection of the investment required to maintain and restore existing infrastructure, the gap has become an important measure of our ability to keep pace with the demand for services and our commitment to the very structures that affect our quality of life. The resulting numbers are massive—in the billions and billions of dollars—and keep getting bigger.

As these numbers continue to grow, so does the sense of urgency around dealing with the issues associated with infrastructure. But there remain important questions around whether we are measuring the right things, what we mean when we talk about infrastructure, and how we should ultimately respond to this ever-growing gap.

It is for these reasons that The Conference Board of Canada will be holding its inaugural infrastructure conference on April 25 and 26 in Ottawa. Building on about-to-be-published research on the infrastructure gap, this event will lay the foundation for key issues, opportunities, and challenges, and expand the conversation about infrastructure in Canada.

Infrastructure is about more than just physical things. It is about the services delivered through those things.

When we talk about infrastructure, we tend to think about large-scale, expensive, physical things (and the politics of wanting those things). Yet a key theme underpinning this conference is that what matters is not just infrastructure itself, but the services delivered through it. By expanding our definition to include services, we unlock a series of pathways that can help us better address the issues associated with infrastructure.

Gain practical insights from national and international experts and leaders

At this event, you will hear from experts across Canada and abroad share their insights on how to understand and respond to the issues associated with infrastructure. Emerging and best practices in other countries will be discussed, with a view towards informing practice and policy in Canada.

This inaugural infrastructure conference will bring together industry experts, government leaders and strategic thinkers with expertise on infrastructure as it relates to planning and decision making, research, policy and practice. It will offer a variety of insights, and consider implications for all levels of government, industry and the Canadian public at large.

This conference will ask and address some of the most pressing issues around infrastructure, including:

  • What counts as infrastructure? And what gets left out of the mix?
  • How does our definition of infrastructure affect our ability to find solutions?
  • What does the gap mean in different regions of Canada? How might it vary between urban and rural municipalities?
  • How might an emphasis on services change our response to the gap?
  • What other approaches (beyond physical condition) can help us evaluate our infrastructure?
  • What additional resources are required to help governments undertake asset management planning?
  • How can municipalities assume greater authority in addressing the issues related to infrastructure? What financial and other tools can be leveraged to better support these efforts?
  • Given the large portfolios held by the provinces, what measures are provincial governments undertaking to address issues with infrastructure and how can these efforts be better supported?
  • What responses are needed at all levels of government to address the gap? How can we deal with conflicting views amongst different levels of government?
  • What roles can technology play in helping to address the demand for services delivered through infrastructure? How might technology replace the need for heavy-builds?
  • When it comes to decision making on infrastructure, how can we move past the politics of wanting certain things and focus on the demand for the services delivered through those things?
  • How should we respond to these big numbers that increase year after year?
  • What is the role of partnerships between government and industry?
  • How will the I-bank help?
  • How can we better engage the public on pricing and user-pay models to address the gap?
  • What non-monetary responses can help us close the gap?

Join us April 25 and 26 to engage in an evidence-based dialogue that expands our thinking about infrastructure.

This is your chance to explore key issues, network with your peers, and be a part of this important conversation.

Building on Success

The Conference Board is Canada’s most respected independent research and conference development organization. It has a long-standing reputation for developing and sharing the latest insights on infrastructure through its Centre for Transportation and Infrastructure (CTI). Conference Board events attract the top public and private sector leaders, and provide an insightful and enlightening learning experience for conference participants.


We’d like to thank our generous sponsors for their contribution to this event. 

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The details of this event are subject to change. Please revisit this page periodically for updated information.

Full Agenda Available!

The full agenda for this event is now available.

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