This past summer was a busy time for the province of Alberta. In what has been a booming economy over the last decade, Alberta has seen a lot of infrastructure activity in 2010.
The government of Alberta and the Premier’s office are focused on having a stable government and strategic long-term planning. The Ministry of Infrastructure supports the government in building a stronger Alberta by “planning, designing, and constructing innovative and environmentally-friendly public facilities to meet the social and economic needs of Albertans and their communities.” In the ministry’s business plan, which covers 2010-2013, a significant focus is planned for improving and building for the future.
Alberta continues to attract new citizens from other provinces, and also is confronted (as are most Canadian provinces) with the challenges of an aging population and workforce. The province is also seeing unprecedented numbers of students enrolling in school. According to Alberta’s budget, the number of seniors in Alberta will increase by about 50,000 over the next 10 years, and those over the age of 65 will account for almost 20 per cent of the province’s population. Schools should also, in the same period, see an increase in enrolment of 100,000 students. Both of these factors will put strain on current infrastructure—therefore putting pressure on the province to expand facilities.
The province has plans to meet these challenges. The ministry aims to work with partners and stakeholders to support the provision of infrastructure in many industries that better the provincial community of Alberta. These include buildings in healthcare, education and other public facilities, as well as the continued operation of government-owned and leased properties.
Partnerships to create advanced infrastructure
The ministry works with its partners to develop capital planning projects, do project management, and preserve and evaluate provincial facilities. The ministry also works with these counterparts to manage the Edmonton and Calgary Transportation Utility Corridors and the Swan Hills Treatment Centre. According to public documents, “in carrying out its mandate, the ministry provides expertise to achieve high standards of leadership in energy-savings and environmental design for all new provincial infrastructure.”
CBJ had the opportunity to explore the ministry’s initiatives further by speaking with the Minister of Infrastructure, Ray Danyluk. He believes that it is “critical to keep our eye on future buildings and build infrastructure that is for tomorrow as well as today.”
From what Minister Danyluk says, it is clear that the province has future generations of Albertans in mind. The province has set aside a sustainability fund of $17 billion, and that capital represents cash that can be used when the economic opportunities arise for infrastructure projects. “We have long-term capital investment budgeted—over $20 billion over the next three years—that will be dedicated for infrastructure at about $7 billion per year,” Danyluk says, illustrating that infrastructure is growing.
“The point is that capital investment is stable and ongoing,” he adds. “We have some of the most advanced infrastructure in North America, and are one of the provinces that are looking into the future for future generations. Having the most advanced infrastructure means having the right infrastructure at the right place at the right time.” Danyluk says that having the right infrastructure doesn’t necessarily mean having the fanciest buildings, but instead being able to fulfill the needs of people.
For Canadian provinces, sustainable development means building sustainably in the environmental sense, but also as the concept relates to accommodating changing populations. “Our ministry is responsible for building and maintaining buildings—our work is divided up into capital projects (building), properties (managing what gets built), and policies and corporate services,” Danyluk says.
In all of these aspects, the ministry is looking at different ways to build and maintain more efficiently. The ministry has used innovative designs to incorporate advanced technology and energy efficient aspects. “We’re working towards a LEED silver standard,” he explains, for ministry projects. “We are meeting the needs of the future, adopting recycling initiatives, and 80 of our government buildings are BOMA BESt certified.”
BOMA BESt is an efficiency standards system developed by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA). BOMA BESt is the next evolution of BOMA Canada’s Go Green program. According to BOMA, BESt stands for Building Environmental Standards, and represents the direction of the commercial real estate industry in Canada and BOMA Canada’s role in providing the mechanisms for common practices across the industry. There are four possible levels of certification in the system, and users can progress through the program and use the framework of Go Green Best Practices to improve environmental performance and management. Whether it’s a hospital or school, the ministry is striving to create more environmentally-friendly infrastructure.
The ministry is hoping to have the best air quality in buildings, and feel it is important “modernize and rejuvenate” structures in the province.
Projects undertaken by the ministry not only help improve buildings and services that fulfill the needs of Albertans—the ministry provides important employment options to the same people it serves. “We want to keep Albertans working,” Danyluk says, and with the amount of work on the go, there should be no shortage of opportunity anytime soon.
“High quality infrastructure boosts commerce, helps create employment opportunities and attracts skilled workers,” the ministry says.
For more information on the ministry’s initiatives, or to find out about current projects and employment, visit http://www.infrastructure.alberta.ca/.