The Western Canada Roadbuilders & Heavy Construction Association (WCR&HCA) has thrown its weight behind a campaign for renewed federal investment in trade gateways and corridors in the west.
The four western roadbuilder and heavy construction associations agreed at the April 6 meeting of the WCR&HCA to appeal to Minister Jim Carr, the Trudeau government’s cabinet appointee as Special Representative for the Prairies, to champion a recapitalization of the federal trade infrastructure investment program, specific to the arteries and hubs that move goods to domestic, continental and international markets.
“The push for a new Western Canada Trade Gateways and Corridors Initiative is gaining traction, with regional and national business organizations joining the appeal to federal and provincial governments,” said WCR&HCA president Chris Lorenc.
A letter to Carr from WCR&HCA, sent April 8, noted that trade carries 65 per cent of Canada’s GDP and initiatives that spur revitalization are critical now to ensure recovery from the pandemic economic recession.
“The trade-based nature of Canada’s economy means that a return to prosperity will not be fully realized without a strategic trade gateway and corridor investment initiative,” the letter signed by WCR&HCA chair Greg Orbanski and Lorenc said.
It pointed out that Western Canada “is strategically positioned to raise Canada’s export profile and potential,” being a vast, resource-rich region with “significant pent-up capacity to produce goods that are in demand domestically, continentally and globally.”
The WCR&HCA support follows letters sent to Carr by a number of Manitoba business organizations as well as by the Canada West Foundation, the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
The Board also heard from the CCA. Participating in the meeting were CCA chair Ray Bassett, immediate past chair Joe Wrobel and president Mary van Buren.
The CCA outlined its current activities, including pressing the federal government to be flexible on projects for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan, to better meet local priorities and the release of in March of its report Strength, resilience, sustainability to help the construction sector adopt best practices and innovations to meet the challenges of climate change.
The Board also heard from the Canada West Foundation fellow John Law regarding a report to be released in early summer making the case for national strategic investment in trade supporting assets.
The British Columbia Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association was welcomed back into the WCR&HCA at the meeting. The other members of the association are the Alberta Roadbuilders & Heavy Construction Association, Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association and the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association.
Orbanski, a former chair of the MHCA, was re-elected WCR&HCA chair. The 2021 Board executive, directors and officers of the association are:
President – Chris Lorenc, MHCA
Vice-Chair – Carmen Duncan, SHCA
Sec. Treas. – Jack Meseyton, MHCA
Members at large:
Allan Barilla, SHCA
Andrew Arnill, ARHCA
Gary Zeitner, ARHCA
Garson Doyle, BCRB&HCA
Steve Drummond, BCRB&HCA
Chief Operating Officers
Kelly Scott, President, BCRB&HCA
Ron Glenn, President, ARHCA
Shantell Lipp, President, SHCA
Chris Lorenc, President, MHCA
The COOs were directed by the Board to review the basis upon which WCR&HCA conventions could resume. Their report to the Board is expected to be considered by early June 2021.