by Shantel Lipp Shantel Lipp
Shantel Lipp - Portrait

The Infrastructure Summit & Trade Show was all I hoped it would be.  I hoped those who attended would find it relevant, practical and impactful, and based on the reviews I have received, it seems to have hit those marks. Summit delegates shared rave reviews of the format of the summit, and attendance for the first year far surpassed my expectations.

As we bring 2023 to a close, I am so pleased with what we have planned for 2024.

The summit was so successful that it will be the model for all future fall conferences, and we look forward to growing this event in future years. Planning for 2024 has already begun. All attendees, sponsors and exhibitors will be surveyed to gain additional information about successes as well as opportunities for improvement to make next year’s event even better.

I was told again and again there was something for everyone, which is exactly what we hoped would be appreciated. The goal of the summit was to showcase the entire industry, so that’s why there were sessions that related to business, earthmoving, paving, equipment and production.

The technical sessions were very valuable, I was told, as was the opportunity to hear about projects outside of Saskatchewan like the Ten Mile Slide in B.C. Over a very busy two days, the summit featured 34 technical sessions, two keynote presentations, 28 exhibitor tradeshow booths and was capped off with the industry awards ceremony. All the breakout rooms were full, as were the morning keynote sessions.

Highlighted by many at the summit were the opportunities for contractors, consultants and Ministry of Highways representatives to connect over our need to work collaboratively rather than meeting in confrontation. Our keynote speaker on the first morning of the summit was Mark Nesbitt, who has worked for more than 30 years in the aggregate, mining, trucking and construction industry. He explained why building relationships matters when you are trying to develop employees working for your company as well as advance your own career and business. You can read more about what he shared during his address in the next issue of Think BIG magazine.

The setting of the summit was conducive to team building and that brought people together to get to know one another and see how we can better work together to achieve what must be accomplished.

That need to work together to achieve monumental accomplishments was a key message delivered during the panel discussion on the first day of the summit. There is a need to plan long term and invest appropriately in trade infrastructure to grow Canada’s economy. Several national groups dedicated to trade, business, construction, manufacturing and more joined together to form a coalition that is pressing politicians across the country to take this need seriously.

Representatives of some of those groups in the coalition were brought together for the panel discussion to describe the relationships and work that came together to develop the Canada Trade Infrastructure Plan (CTIP). CTIP urges the Council of the Federation to pursue a federally-leveraged, nation-building plan to revitalize Canada’s trade-enabling infrastructure to support sustained economic growth and expand and diversify Canada’s global trade profile. More on this work will be shared in the next issue of Think BIG as well.

While others focus on the federal government, my attention is on the 2024 election year for provincial and municipal governments. My efforts will be dedicated to pressing them on vital matters. Through most of 2024, expect to hear much from SHCA about the ways in which Saskatchewan is not keeping up. That applies to long-term planning, infrastructure funding and government policy renewal.

This lack of commitment is causing us to lag. Saskatchewan creates billions of dollars in trade every year and there are targets and efforts dedicated by the province to grow our trade. A significant portion of the provincial GDP depends on trade. Our transportation infrastructure must be able to support even more movement of products and people in and out of the province, so we must do more than keep up.

I look forward to sharing with you more details about this effort we will undertake in the coming year, and I ask that you help us amplify this message so it reaches the province’s voters and becomes an issue on the campaign trail. I know that you know it matters, but we must help others recognize and appreciate its vital importance.

Until then, I hope you have an enjoyable December filled with lots of cheer and goodwill ahead of a safe and prosperous new year.