• Community Benefits

    Infrastructure Ontario has a history of partnering with both public sector ministries and agencies, community stakeholders and private companies to ensure that the projects we deliver incorporate benefits to the communities in which they are built. IO will continue to support the implementation of community benefits consistent with government policy commitments.

    In 2015, Ontario passed the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act (IJPA), becoming the first Canadian jurisdiction to pass legislation to enable consideration of community benefits in infrastructure planning and investment.

    In November 2017, the Province released the Building Better Lives: Ontario’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan (LTIP). The LTIP sets out a vision for Ontario’s infrastructure planning and investment, including better linking infrastructure investments to social initiatives such as community benefits projects and apprenticeships that support more jobs and training opportunities.

    The LTIP outlines the government’s plans to:

    • Select  Community Benefits Pilot Projects by early 2018;
    • Develop a Community Benefits Framework in 2019, following the launch and implementation of the pilot projects, in partnership with stakeholders including the construction sector, social services and community groups;
    • Ensure all major public infrastructure projects comply with a Community Benefits Framework for major infrastructure projects by 2020 based, in part, on the results of Community Benefits pilot projects.

    The Government has indicated that community benefits initiatives may include:

    • Workforce development initiatives such as employment and training opportunities including apprenticeships to members of disadvantaged communities and local residents;
    • Social procurement initiatives such as purchasing goods and services from local businesses or social enterprises;
    • Supplementary benefits initiatives which could be additional benefits a community may need during and after construction of a major infrastructure project.

    Community Benefit Pilot Projects

    The Government has identified pilot projects building on progress already being made on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project under the leadership of Metrolinx. Furthermore, Metrolinx continues to advance community benefits on other Light Rail Transit projects such as Finch, Hurontario and Hamilton.

    The approach to community benefits will be tailored to each pilot project. However, some consistent elements on the pilots could include a Declaration about the community benefits, a Plan for how community benefits will be achieved, a Working Group to enable collaboration between business, community government and other partners, and Annual Reports on progress and results on community benefits. 

    The five pilots are the next step toward the development of the Community Benefits Framework announced in the 2017 Budget.

    1. Finch West LRT project
    2. West Park Healthcare Centre Development Project
    3. Macdonald Block Reconstruction Project
    4. Halton Region Consolidated Courthouse
    5. Thunder Bay Correctional Complex

    There is not a template or one-size-fits-all approach to the pilot projects. As described in the Long-Term Infrastructure Plan, the pilot project should be a balanced approach and provide experience and lessons learned not only for government, but for infrastructure industry and community partners. Different pilot projects allow for different consideration of workforce development, social procurement and supplementary benefits.

    IO’s Additional Experience Related to Community Benefits

    The Durham Region Courthouse in Oshawa 

    • IO supported the Ministry of the Attorney General by communicating with local businesses and helping share information with future courthouse users about services offered locally. 
    • With approximately 1,500 people conducting business daily in the courthouse, demand for restaurant meals, office space and other services in the area increased, representing an estimated $7 million per year in additional spending in the City of Oshawa.

    Bridgepoint Hospital

    • Design and construction achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification
    • Supports alternative transportation options by providing:
      • preferred parking for carpool
      • amenities for cyclists (storage, showers and expanded staff change rooms)
    • Diverted at least 75 per cent of construction waste away from landfill by recycling or salvaging construction materials

    The Herb Gray Parkway in Windsor

    • Provided more than 300 acres of extensively landscaped green space and more than 20 kilometres of recreational trails
    • Prior to the start of construction, all plant and snake species at risk were relocated from the Parkway corridor to protected restoration areas. 

    IO’s Future Outlook

    Success on community benefits pilot projects will require significant partnership between government, business, community, labour, education and training and other organizations. Cooperation and collaboration will be a critical ingredient for success. Community benefits are relatively new to Ontario and a balanced approach to create lessons learned, best practices and continuous improvement will be valuable to using experience on one project and tailoring to other projects. It will take time for insight to be gained from experience in order to inform future government policy decisions.

    IO will continue to work with government, business and community organizations to advance community benefit commitments.  We are also participating with the Ministry of Infrastructure and other partners in the ongoing consultations on the community benefits pilot projects and policy framework.

    IO will assess including a requirement at the RFQ stage for bidders to identify their relevant knowledge and experience to deliver a project with community benefits. IO will strike a balance to remain consistent with government policy about community benefits while ensuring a commercial approach that ensures fairness and competitive bidding for the project. This approach would be considered for future pilot projects that have not yet entered procurement.