5 green infrastructure projects engineers recommend to boost COVID-19

With at least two million jobs lost across Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy officially in recession, more stimulus is expected from the federal government to get the economy moving again.  

To date, the government has spent more than $145 billion on direct support for Canadians related to COVID-19. 

Beyond what has already been pledged for stimulus, experts say additional investments in infrastructure, especially related to clean technology, are one of the best ways to get people back to work and to leave a lasting legacy. 

Following the Great Recession of 2008, for example, Washington provided $983 billion US in stimulus spending but received little in the way of faster trains or better infrastructure, according to figures tabulated by Graham Allison, a Harvard University professor and former senior U.S. government adviser in his book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?

China, in contrast, used its stimulus to build a network of high-speed trains and other major projects, Aillson noted. 

To create tangible, long-term benefits and get people back to work, here are five stimulus projects engineers, clean energy advocates and other experts say should be launched.

Electric vehicle charging stations 

Transportation accounts for 25 per cent Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to government data. 

Many consumers are keen to transition to electric vehicles — but who wants to own a car you can’t drive on a long-distance road trip due to a lack of charging stations on major highways? 

“It’s a chicken-and-egg situation,” Kasun Hewage, a professor of engineering at the University of British Columbia, said in an interview. “People are not buying electric cars because they’re worried about the infrastructure.”

WATCH | Slow uptake for electric cars in Canada:

Despite being seen as the cars of the future, electric vehicles only make up for 3.5 per cent of cars sold in Canada. While consumers are concerned about the price and range, automotive companies continue to put out new electric vehicles in hopes the market catches up. 1:59

The government has announced $130 million in funding, over five years ending in 2024, to develop a national recharging network. 

But that alone won’t create enough charging stations to allow someone to drive an electric car from coast to coast, Hewage said, and the private sector is currently apprehensive about putting up the additional cash for installation.

Bruce MacKay, a managing director of Hatch, a Mississauga, Ont.-based engineering firm, said current programs for charging stations could be rolled out more quickly if subsidies for electric cars were reintroduced by provinces like Ontario, and taxes on gasoline were increased. 

“A standardized, major roll-out of electric charging stations … would accelerate the conversion of the vehicle fleet to electric,” McKay said. 

Building a network to cover 25 per cent, 50 per cent and 100 per…

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