The past few years have seen a litany of news reports, opinion columns, and political rants and raves targeted at the perceived lack of action from the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB or the Bank). The critiques have been repetitive, cycling through the notions that not enough money has been spent, not enough projects have been supported, and a clear direction hasn’t been established, all then pointing a sharp finger at the Liberal government.
It’s easy to get caught up in the politics of it all. But then you take a step back, gain some perspective, and all of the sudden, it all makes sense.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank started as an idea. Then some people were put in place to turn the idea into a real, tangible product. There were some bumps in the road, a few milestones were reached, and a few people started to buy into the potential of the product, all the while people who didn’t buy into the viability of the product continued to criticize everyone and everything associated with the product.
Sound familiar? If you’ve ever worked with a start-up trying to get an innovative product from concept to commercial scale, then the story of the Canada Infrastructure Bank should resonate loud and clear.
On November 16th, the industry received a clear signal: those who run the Bank are confident they have reached commercial scale.
In the past two months, the signs have been there; the CIB was getting close. On October 1st, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Bank’s $10 billion Growth Plan mandate with targeted investments in five key areas in the short term and then, just over a month later, news that former Infrastructure Ontario CEO Ehren Cory would be the new man at the helm of the Bank.
Then, for the first time, Cory, alongside John Casola, spoke with former provincial cabinet minister Janet Ecker during the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships conference. Listening to both gentlemen you could hear the excitement, you could feel the energy, you could see the passion. They have a roster of projects they are already working on; they have a clear direction from the federal government, and they have a proven infrastructure industry leader at the helm. The Bank has learned some important lessons, they’ve built relationships with the industry, and they have the people in place that can execute the work.
It’s a good day for infrastructure development in Canada. The Canada Infrastructure Bank has reached commercial scale and is ready to start full production.
Andrew Macklin is the managing editor of ReNew Canada.