While the COVID-19 pandemic eased, and life inched toward to normal, economic turmoil and rising inflation emerged as the next obstacle to overcome for Canada’s public infrastructure sector over the past year. If the 2023 edition of the Top100 Projects Report is any indication, the country continued to get shovels in the ground to build important infrastructure projects despite the challenges.

Canada’s Top100 Projects reached a total value of $273 billion, unchanged from last year. The list turned over 11 projects, nine of which were due to substantial completion being reached, with one project—the Calgary Event Centre—being cancelled. Ten projects made their first appearance in the report, while Metro Vancouver’s North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant returned after a one-year hiatus after enlisting a new construction management team.

In the 2023 version of the report, the 11 new projects totaled nearly $10 billion, with eight of them falling under the buildings development sector, with the remaining projects falling under the water-wastewater (2) and transportation sectors.

Overall, the transit sector leads the 2023 Top100 Projects report with a quarter of the projects, valued at $120.6 billion, followed by the energy sector (11 projects, $50.7 billion), the buildings sector (30 projects, $45.4 billion), the transportation sector (19 projects, $28.2 billion), and the water-wastewater, communications, and remediation sector (15 projects, $28 billion).

Here is a look at some of largest infrastructure projects from across Canada making their debut on the 2023 Top100 Projects report.

Thunder Bay Correctional Complex (No. 57)

The Thunder Bay Correctional Complex project involves the replacement of an aging jail and correctional facility with a new, 345-bed, multipurpose complex. Both the Thunder Bay Jail and Thunder Bay Correctional Facility are among the oldest provincially run adult correctional facilities, which were built in 1928 and 1965, respectively.

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The new facility will update automation and technology to address issues of health, safety, and security. This includes the introduction of efficiencies related to design, technology, and the use of space. The rebuilt Thunder Bay Correctional Facility is designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) certification by focusing on energy efficiency, healthy indoor environments, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The facility will include a connection to an existing 50-inmate facility called the Thunder Bay Modular Built Facility (MBF), which is located to the southeast of TBCC and is currently under construction.

The project also involves the creation of a new access driveway from Highway 61 and the design and construction of a 4,000 sq. ft. wastewater treatment facility.

Place du Portage III Renewal Project (No. 62)

The Place du Portage III complex, currently serving as Public Services and Procurement Canada’s headquarters, is the largest of the four buildings that comprise the Place du Portage federal campus in Gatineau, Quebec. Built in the 1970s, the complex consists of: nine towers, commercial areas, four basement levels, and a three-level underground parking garage.

The renewal of Portage III encompasses a complete overhaul of both the inside and outside of the building, including modernized activity-based workplaces; a new energy-efficient building envelope and heating; (HVAC) system; a new accessible entrance and a completely revamped main entrance; and improved landscaping.

Before modernizing, the Portage III complex accommodated 4,773 full-time employees from PSPC and Shared Services Canada. The Portage III AWR project will transform the complex to accommodate at least 8,845 people and to meet the needs of a modern workplace.

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The Portage III Asset and Workplace Renewal (AWR) Project is divided into two phases and will consist of renovations to the inside and the outside of the building.

Arts Commons Transformation Project (No. 96)

Since Arts Commons opened in 1985, Calgary’s population has nearly tripled and the amount of resident companies that call the complex home has doubled. With over 10 years of research, development, and community-engagement behind it, the Arts Commons Transformation (ACT) project—led by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of The City of Calgary—includes two phases to achieve a new, vibrant campus in the heart of Calgary.

Phase one of the transformation will expand capacity at a new location called Arts Commons North, or The Road House, that will include three versatile, purpose-built venues, a connection to the existing building and supporting amenities. This 173,000 sq. ft. space will include a new 1,200 seat theatre, two smaller theatres, rehearsal space and an elevated corridor to the existing building and related amenities.

Phase two of the Arts Commons Transformation involves the revitalization of the existing facility. Arts Commons South or The Resident House will be redesigned and will create a civic arts centre that is more accessible, with upgraded amenities and technology. The Resident House is currently home to six resident companies.

Fairbank Silverthorn Storm Trunk and Sewer System (No. 100)

The City of Toronto, with support from the Government of Canada, is making a significant investment in storm water infrastructure to protect the Fairbank Silverthorn community from basement and surface flooding. The project will construct a three-kilometre long and 4.5-metre diameter storm trunk sewer, 17-km length of storm collector sewers and install 325 inlet control devices to control stormwater going to catch basins. When construction is complete in 2026, the new infrastructure will cut the amount of storm water flowing into Black Creek on the western edge of the community by approximately 40,000 cubic metres, reducing sewer backups and basement flooding for more than 4,645 homes and provide flood protection to a 140-hectare area. The first contract to construct the storm trunk sewer and some storm collector sewers is underway. Several shafts have been completed and others are being constructed in anticipation of tunneling work, set to commence in early 2023.

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[This article originally appeared in the January/February2023 edition of ReNew Canada.]

John Tenpenny is the editor of ReNew Canada.


Here is the list of projects no longer listed as part of the Top100 Projects report:

  • Romaine Complex
  • Montreal Metro AZUR Car Purchase and Replacement
  • CFB Trenton Expansion
  • East-West Tie Transmission Project
  • Travers Solar Project
  • Calgary Event Centre
  • Gordon M. Shrum Generating Station Refurbishment
  • Library and Archives Canada Preservation Centre]
  • Cote-Vertu Station Underground Garage
  • Royal Inland Hospital Patient Care Tower
  • Gene Zwozdesky Centre at Norwood

Featured image: Vancouver’s Broadway Subway project (No. 26) reached a critical phase of construction with the start of tunnel excavation to connect six new underground stations on the 5.7-km extension of the Millennium Line. (BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)


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