by Shantel Lipp Shantel Lipp

Who else is ready to get together to talk business as well as socialize with others in our industry?

If your answer is yes, I can tell you that you are not alone and that feeling is being felt across Western Canada. 

From what those with the Western Canadian Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association (WCR&HCA) are hearing, there is an appetite for a conference. There is enthusiasm from those who have attended their conferences in the past to attend such an event again. Plus, past sponsors share that they too are ready to support a conference.

With that kind of feedback, a decision was made by the WCR&HCA board in early November that planning for an early 2023 conference in Waikiki, Hawaii should proceed.

The last time the WCR&HCA held a conference was in 2017. As you know, a lot has changed since then and this conference is a good opportunity for members from our industry across the four western provinces to meet and discuss what is important.

The Western Canada Trade Gateways & Corridors Initiative is one such matter. Simply put, Canada’s economy depends on trade, which requires infrastructure to move goods. The WCR&HCA is calling for the federal government to increase its funding of infrastructure that enables trade. 

The investment would be worth it. This initiative is looking at the future and the needs that must be met in order to seize opportunity. 

Canada must diversify its trade markets to become less reliant on the U.S. The middle class in Asia is growing at a pace that will be beyond the ability of its economy to support, but the same growth is not expected of the U.S.

Canada should be ready to trade with those countries that want what Western Canada has to offer in the quantities they will require. But to do so requires scaling up Canada’s infrastructure, particularly in the West. This includes marine, road, rail and air in the gateways and trade corridors that will allow us to move freight and people that are significant to trade with Asia, but will also boost trade here in Canada as well as across the North American continent. 

The WCR&HCA is working with federal and regional partners – including the Canadian Construction Association, Business Council of Canada, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and the Canada West Foundation – to promote the Western Canada Trade Gateways & Corridors Initiative. They are pressing the federal government to substantially increase investment within the National Trade Corridors Fund, which in 2021’s budget was $1.9 billion.

However, the WCR&HCA states that at least $10 billion needs to be contributed by the federal government if western provinces are to see regional corridors in this part of the country strengthened in order to seize on this trade opportunity. And it’s not just the federal government who is being encouraged to invest. The initiative goes beyond the feds to motivate private investment in Western Canada’s infrastructure as well. 

While planning for the conference is still underway, given the importance of this initiative and the consistent activity by the WCR&HCA around it, it is hard to imagine it not being a vital part of the conversations that take place during their event.

For this reason, and many more, I hope you are among those pleased to learn that this conference has been approved in principle. It’s important for those of us in this industry to gather together to talk about the business, but to also find time to enjoy one another’s company. Here’s to this event going ahead in 2023!