Every school year as spring turns into summer and temperatures soar, we see television news reports of school children and staff members suffering in the heat at schools. A lack of essential upgrades to school heating and cooling systems are the culprit. In 2018, the Toronto District School Board reported 78% of its schools lacked air conditioning. As one measure to address the uncomfortable high temperatures, schools have set up cooling centers in large spaces in each facility, but these measures cost a lot and the funding comes directly from the Board’s repair budget, which is already stretched thin.
Public sector organizations in many places around the globe are looking for better ways to manage, improve, or modernize their infrastructure assets often while budgets have been shrinking. Efficiencies and asset management have improved over the years, but largely the infrastructure sector has operated much the same for over 100 years. Without the sector reinventing itself, many public sector organizations will find it increasingly difficult to meet the challenges of managing infrastructure in the 21st century.
Perhaps the primary barrier to renewing or expanding community infrastructure is financial. Many public sector organizations:
- Lack their own capital to renew or expand their infrastructure
- Lack the financial strength to attract capital via lenders without government guarantees
- May find it difficult to raise capital even if they are stronger financially, because many lenders either do not want to fund infrastructure or do not provide competitive rates for renewal or expansion infrastructure projects
It is no secret public infrastructure in many places around the United States and Canada has deteriorated during the last few decades. Although the severity may vary, public sector organizations such as governments, health care, education, municipalities, and First Nations are finding it increasingly challenging to address issues with their waste, water, power, and building infrastructure. The problems are very complex.
The purpose of this blog is to share many short stories and anecdotes of how we were able to work closely with public sector organizations to solve specific infrastructure challenges. We are looking forward to sharing our experiences over the next while.
“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”
Walter Manitowabi, Director of the First Nations Sustainable Communities Program of IGNITE Infrastructure Association, presented at the Assembly of First Nations 2017 National Housing and Infrastructure Forum being held in Montreal, Quebec, October 30-November 1. During his presentation, Manitowabi announced the national launch of the First Nations Sustainable Communities Program.
Manitowabi participated in a panel discussion on Skills Development and Capacity Building. The panel also discussed opportunities to support First Nations with innovative project development and financing models. “It is crucial, now more than ever, for First Nations to develop new ways of project development and financing. The current government programs are broken and have been broken for a long time. Yes, First Nations do need a national strategy with new delivery models and new federal programming, but until then, First Nations need a new approach to infrastructure – a community driven approach that is supported by IGNITE.”
Innovative Strategy Will Improve Economic Prosperity and Social Well-Being
October 11, 2017 – Manitoulin Island, Ontario – The Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, one of the 10 largest First Nation communities in Canada, is honoured to be the first community to participate in the First Nations Sustainable Communities Program, developed by IGNITE Infrastructure Association Inc. (IGNITE). Elected Chief of the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, Ogimaa Duke Peltier and Director of the IGNITE First Nations Sustainable Communities Program, Walter Manitowabi, celebrated the official launch of the program in Ontario, as well as the successful completion of Phase One of the Wiikwemkoong project, today at a ceremonial red ribbon event. Endorsed by the Chiefs of Ontario, the First Nations Sustainable Communities Program provides support to First Nations in developing comprehensive, community-driven plans that reflect local opportunities and constraints. Through the program, IGNITE works with First Nations communities to design, build, finance, and deliver project implementation strategies; which are developed collaboratively with First Nations Leadership through needs assessments and comprehensive energy and facility audits.