Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Toronto, Ontario Quality of life in Canada’s cities may rank “among the very best” today, but the future is not as bright, according to a national study released today on the sustainability of cities. While 74 per cent of the experts participating in the survey rate the quality of life in their cities as above average, only 44 per cent are optimistic about their cities’ future without substantial investments in infrastructure to increase competiveness, protect the environment and ensure quality of life.
The study entitled the Sustainable Cities Challenge in Canada was commissioned by Siemens Canada in conjunction with the David Suzuki Foundation and was conducted by GlobeScan Inc. in 12 of Canada’s largest cities. It reflects the views of a sample of experts on issues related to municipal infrastructure from government, the private sector, academia, and non-governmental organizations.
Focusing on key infrastructure areas transportation, energy, water and waste water, healthcare, and safety and security the study reveals that experts are divided on how effectively their cities are adopting sustainable infrastructure solutions. Less than a majority (41 per cent) think their cities’ leaders recognize the vital role that infrastructure decisions can play in protecting the environment and addressing climate change. And nine in ten experts see a high need for investment in transportation infrastructure far greater than other sectors.
“At Siemens, we are very interested to know what Canadian city leaders and key stakeholders are thinking, which is why we undertook and invested in this study. We want to engage Canadians in a dialogue about sustainable cities, increase awareness of the subject and encourage more people to think about the future today,” said Roland Aurich, president and CEO of Siemens Canada.
Results of the study released today add critical information to the ongoing dialogue initiated by Siemens to address the key challenges facing cities. Building on the themes currently dominating that discussion, experts who participated in the study say that transportation infrastructure faces a “perfect storm” of problems in the coming years. Six in ten experts, especially those in Atlantic Canada and the Prairies, say that old or obsolete infrastructure is the biggest challenge facing their respective cities. Lack of long-term strategic planning and inadequate capacity are also considered to be factors contributing to the problem.
Experts also cite transportation infrastructure as a key factor affecting a city’s competitiveness. When asked to name which type of infrastructure is the most important in attracting investment to their cities, 63 per cent of experts point to transportation. Yet only one-half believe that when making infrastructure investments, their cities place high importance on making the city competitive to attract private investment.
Similarly, the study reveals that while the subject of sustainable infrastructure is accepted, implementation is lagging. Only four in ten experts (mainly in government) think that their cities recognize the vital role that infrastructure decisions can play in protecting the environment and addressing climate change. Three in ten disagree, suggesting a lack of awareness of the link between infrastructure and the environment.
“Many say it is too late, however we don’t think so,” added Mr. Aurich. “At Siemens, we are committed to being responsible, excellent and innovative when it comes to the environment and sustainable cities. We want to work with Canadians across this great country to make a ‘sustainable’ difference.”
“The David Suzuki Foundation encourages companies like Siemens Canada in their efforts to work towards a sustainable future; however, we encourage everyone to stop and think about the importance of our natural capital assets as being the key to sustainability, and the interdependency between striking a balance between quality of human life and the quality and protection of our home, the biosphere,” said Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation.
“This research also shows that our cities risk putting significant tax dollars into transportation projects that may move a lot of people but don’t deliver on environmental protection, economic competitiveness and quality of life,” said Rob Kerr, Vice President, GlobeScan.
“What we’ve learned from this study is invaluable: using infrastructure dollars more effectively will make our cities more sustainable and competitive,” said Mr. Aurich. “At Siemens, we believe that technology is critical to making cities fit for the future,” he added.
Experts’ views on how quickly and efficiently their cities will adopt sustainable infrastructure solutions differ widely across the country. In Vancouver, 71 per cent rate their city among the best at adopting green solutions. Those in Quebec are at the other end of the spectrum, with almost no one rating their city above average.
In terms of environmental challenges, the study shows that experts point first to transportation-related issues (20 per cent) and water/waste water (19 per cent). These issues are followed by urban sprawl (14 per cent) and atmospheric issues such as air pollution and climate change (11 per cent). Across regions there is differentiation: experts in Quebec and British Columbia perceive transportation to be the most serious, while in Ontario and Prairie cities, water challenges hold the number one position. Experts in Atlantic Canada consider both transportation and water to be equally serious, while urban sprawl is the most serious for experts in Alberta cities.
The study shows that aging water infrastructure and poor public awareness are other major challenges that cities must face in the near future.
Siemens is one of the largest and most diversified companies in the world of electronics and electrical engineering, operating in the industry, energy and healthcare sectors. The company has approximately 5,060 employees in Canada, working to develop and manufacture products, design and install complex systems and projects, and tailor a wide range of solutions for individual requirements. For almost 100 years in Canada, Siemens has stood for technical achievements, innovation, quality and reliability. Sales for Siemens in Canada for fiscal 2009 (ended September 30), were $2.5 billion CAD. Further information is available at www.siemens.ca
GlobeScan is an international opinion research consultancy. Companies, multilateral institutions, governments and NGOs trust GlobeScan for its unique expertise in reputation research, sustainability, and issues management. GlobeScan provides global organizations with evidence-based insight and advice to help them build strong brands, manage relations with key stakeholders, and define their strategic positioning. GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries, is certified to the ISO 9001:2008 standard for its quality management system, and is a signatory to the UN Global Compact. Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in London, Toronto, and San Francisco. www.GlobeScan.com
This press release may contain forward-looking statements based on the beliefs of the management of Siemens Canada Limited and its affiliates. The words “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “forecast,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “should,” and “project,” are used to identify forward-looking statements. Such statements reflect the management’s current views with respect to future events and are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause the actual results to be materially different, among others, changes in general economic and business conditions, changes in currency exchange rate and interest rates, introduction of competing products, lack of acceptance of new products or services and changes in business strategy. Actual results may vary materially from those projected here. Siemens Canada Limited and its affiliates do not intend or assume any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.