- Canada’s core public infrastructure, excluding social and affordable housing, had a total replacement value of $2.1 trillion at the end of 2020.
- Roads and water infrastructure account for the majority of replacement values.
- Municipalities own most of the core public infrastructure and there are differences in replacement values between urban and rural areas.
Canada’s core public infrastructure, excluding social and affordable housing, had a total replacement value of $2.1 trillion at the end of 2020. Roads and bridges and tunnels accounted for over half (52.9%) of the total estimated replacement value, while water infrastructure accounted for more than one-third (35.8%). This article delves deeper into the survey results to understand the breakdown of replacement values by infrastructure type and ownership.
Roads and Water Infrastructure Dominate Replacement Values
The cost to replace assets rated in poor or very poor condition was estimated at just over 10% of the total replacement value, at $264.7 billion, or $16,252 per private dwelling in Canada. Road infrastructure made up 48.1% of the infrastructure in greatest need of rehabilitation or replacement (in poor or very poor condition), followed by wastewater infrastructure (13.9%) and potable water infrastructure (11.1%).
Municipalities Own the Majority of Core Public Infrastructure
Municipalities owned 61.7% of the total estimated replacement value of core public infrastructure in Canada, with urban municipalities owning more than two-thirds (68.1%). Rural municipalities accounted for almost one-third of the replacement value of the core public infrastructure, despite representing only 17.8% of Canada’s population. Roads made up most of the total replacement value of core public infrastructure in rural municipalities (57.9%), while they accounted for 21.5% in urban municipalities.
Differences in Replacement Values Between Urban and Rural Municipalities
Even though rural municipalities owned 79.1% of the length of municipally owned roads in 2020, they accounted for 55.8% of the replacement value, largely because more roads are unpaved in rural municipalities. Consequently, the cost to build new roads in rural municipalities was estimated at $0.4 million per two-lane equivalent kilometer, on average, compared with $1.2 million in urban municipalities.
Wastewater infrastructure had the largest value of all infrastructure categories in urban municipalities at $205.7 billion (22.7% of the total). The 836 wastewater treatment facilities owned by urban municipalities in 2020 had a total replacement value of $30.2 billion. That amounted to an average of $36.2 million per facility and more than five times the average value of one facility owned by rural municipalities ($6.7 million).
Assets in Poor or Very Poor Condition
Assets in poor or very poor condition were estimated to account for a similar share of total replacement values in urban municipalities (13.0%) and rural municipalities (12.3%). Although Ontario had the largest value of publicly owned infrastructure in poor or very poor condition ($70.5 billion) among provinces and territories, Nova Scotia (21.9%) and Quebec (19.9%) had the largest share of assets, by replacement value, rated in poor or very poor condition.
Microdata Available for the Year 2020
The microdata file for the year 2020 is now available upon request. It contains the inventory, condition, year of construction, expected useful life, estimated replacement value, and asset management practices of core public infrastructure assets owned by various levels of the Canadian government. The file contains selected variables pertaining to the following types of infrastructure: roads, bridges and tunnels, public transit, potable water, stormwater, wastewater, solid waste, public social and affordable housing, and culture, recreation, and sports facilities.
|Infrastructure Type||Replacement Value (in billions CAD)||Percentage of Total Replacement Value|
|Roads and bridges and tunnels||1,110.1||52.9%|
|Culture, recreation, and sports facilities||35.4||1.7%|
|Public social and affordable housing||13.0||0.6%|
In conclusion, the 2020 survey on Canada’s core public infrastructure replacement values provides valuable insights into the cost of replacing these assets and highlights areas in need of investment and rehabilitation. The availability of microdata will assist policymakers, planners, and researchers in making informed decisions about resource allocation for the maintenance and improvement of Canada’s core public infrastructure.