Editorial: Mother Nature’s infrastructure 101 class

Blame it on climate change; blame it on bad luck; blame it on bad weather. But pointing fingers of blame won’t rebuild B.C.’s transportation infrastructure. Helping hands will.

Also needed far more than raising alarm about more dark clouds on the horizon is a plan to rebuild infrastructure better across Canada.

B.C.’s Asia-Pacific Gateway is a good place to start. It is the country’s main conduit for transpacific trade, which continues to boom and shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.

Port and freight infrastructure up and down North America’s West Coast has been overwhelmed by that boom since mid-2020. The pandemic is in part to blame for the resulting port congestion and supply chain dysfunction. But its impact has also exposed a series of weak links in the continent’s supply chain that were apparent before COVID-19 brought the world’s economy to a standstill.

Strategic incorporation of automation and digitization in port terminals and other logistics operations is needed. Co-ordination and sharing of critical cargo data from first mile to last mile is also fundamental to improving goods movement, as are co-operative agreements between major retailers to pool resources to maximize containerized cargo shipping efficiencies.

In Canada, where trade generates two-thirds of the country’s GDP, international confidence in its trade infrastructure continues to slip.

As the Canada West Foundation pointed out earlier this year in its submission to the federal government’s National Infrastructure Assessment initiative, the country’s transportation infrastructure ranking as compiled by the World Bank and the World Economic Forum has dropped from 10th best in 2008-09 to 32nd today.

The damage done from last week’s rainstorm needs repair now; but a national plan to improve the resiliency and efficiency of Canada’s transportation infrastructure should have been instituted yesterday.

Another patchwork approach will not be good enough. Canada needs to start thinking locally and acting nationally in the post-pandemic economy.