National Highways Commission
An example of commitment to its mission is reflected in the record of the Prairie Roadbuilder's Annual Convention held in Saskatoon in 1953. The Convention adopted a resolution calling upon the federal government to establish a National Highways Commission to co-ordinate the planning, financing and construction of national highways in Canada in support of economic growth.
The arguments cited were as sound then, as they are today. They were part of national lobby efforts which helped persuade the Diefenbaker government of the merits of constructing the Trans-Canada Highway in the late 1950's.
The Road & Information Program Canada (TRIP/Canada)
Commitment to the above principles led the WCR&HCA in 1983 to initiate formation of The Road & Information Program Canada (TRIP/Canada). TRIP/Canada produced successive reports on the condition of Canada's municipal infrastructure and highways which were circulated to all three levels of government.
TRIP/Canada helped persuade the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) to complete and release successive reports addressing the concept of, and funding for, a National Highways System (NHS).
In 1997, the WCR&HCA successfully recommended that TRIP's name be changed to The Road & Infrastructure Program Canada (TRIP/Canada) in recognition of TRIP/Canada's broadened mandate.
National Infrastructure Policy (NIP)
Mindful of its national focus, in 1996/97 the WCR&HCA adopted a National Infrastructure Policy (NIP) which targeted investment in three public policy area imperatives:
- Municipal Infrastructure deficit;
- National Highway System (NHS); and
- Strategic Infrastructure Investments enabling new economic activity.
The NIP approach was subsequently adopted by national and provincial associations including the Canadian Construction Association (CCA). It's also worth noting Prime Minister Harper's 2007 budget had two of the three elements. It lacked commitment to a National Highways System)
In 1998/99 the WCR&HCA supported a policy approach which fleshed out Canada's Premiers' Guidelines to a New Infrastructure Program they had approved at their1996/97 Annual Conferences. The brief was used in national lobbying efforts to press the federal government to adopt a National Transportation & Infrastructure Policy.
Transportation Awareness Partnership (TAP)
By 2004 there was general agreement that to change public policy required the support of an informed public. As a result, the WCR&HCA led formation of the Transportation Awareness Partnership (TAP) stakeholder group. Its objective was to elevate the importance of transportation to the standard of life that Canadians had come to enjoy.
The campaign ended when there was insufficient interests from a broad enough national coalition to raise the necessary funds to pursue such a campaign. However, this initiative did accomplish something very worthwhile: It formed the basis upon which the WCR&HCA pursued its next national policy initiative launched in 2005.
Western Canada Transportation System (WCTS)
In March 2005, the Western Transportation Minister's Report (WTM Report) was released. For the first time, a government report ignored provincial boundaries and considered developing a transportation system for western Canada in a regional, multi-modal, efficient, just-in-time competitive global context. (In December 2005, the WTM Report formed the basis upon which the premiers again called upon the federal government to develop a National Transportation Vision.)
Then, in October 2005, based on the WTM Report, the WCR&HCA facilitated a Western Canada stakeholder-based group of associations to advance the notion and concept of a Western Canada Transportation System (WCTS).
Its mission statement was straightforward:
To champion an integrated, internationally competitive, efficient, sustainable and secure multi-modal Western Canada Transportation System (WCTS), to achieve a healthy economy, environment and quality of life for Canadians.
Promoting its notion of a system laid out strategically to enhance east west, north south trade while seizing emerging trade with the Asia-Pacific Rim countries, the WCTS Group met with all four western Canada transportation ministers.
Each minister committed their respective deputy minister to meet with the WCTS Group to pursue next steps. As a result of the December 2007 meetings in Vancouver, British Columbia there was unanimous agreement to update the WTM Report; to identify regulatory legislative harmonization and investment impediments to the free flow of trade; and to combine the two into one report.
These initiatives were accomplished by May 2008. Unfortunately, the economy went into recession in late 2008 and changed government focus. The link between infrastructure and economic growth was not lost on the WCR&HCA and it continued to champion the message regionally and nationally.