Spotlight on Infrastructure: RICS President Amanda Clack FRICS’ North American tour

Neil Shah

Regional Managing Director, Americas (RICS)

With increased attention on infrastructure investment in both Canada and the U.S., we recently invited Global RICS President, Amanda Clack FRICS, on a tour of the region that focused on the latest thinking and developments in North American infrastructure.

Infrastructure, as well as Global Cities and Diversity, are part of our President’s priorities this year and she was especially keen to learn how qualified professionals are delivering value on infrastructure asset management.

One of the great learnings of the North American tour was that although many would say the U.S. and Canada are very similar across the board, there are tremendous differences in how each country is tackling its own infrastructure needs.

It’s true that the US is larger with more established infrastructure, but that means we need even more infrastructure and the systems we have in place require a significant amount of refurbishment, and even renewal. Canada’s approach has been much more proactive with incentives at Federal and Provincial levels, with a keen eye towards partnering with the private sector. As a result, Canada is widely held as a model for how infrastructure projects are designed, built, financed and operated.

While there are many similar great examples in the US, progress in infrastructure is reactive and highly dependent on views at state and local levels, as the federal government doesn’t always have direct influence.

While on her visit to the region, Amanda Clack was hosted in North America by one of our key partners, BTY, who are heavily involved in projects across the US and Canada. Stakeholders from across the public and private sectors gathered to discuss the growing need to integrate design, building, finance and operating models, and how to develop the talent base necessary to make complex infrastructure projects successful. They not only hosted infrastructure roundtables in Toronto and New York, but provided great insight into how these projects are delivered. 

The visit to Toronto included a site tour of the Crosstown project, which is a light rail expansion in Toronto that is a crucial part of a C$50 billion transit project in Canada called the “Big Move.” 
In New York, February weather precluded a visit to LaGuardia Airport, however the project team was still able to give a briefing on what is currently one of the largest infrastructure projects in the US.

Amanda Clack FRICS’ visit included private meetings with investors in both cities, as well as participation in the 3rd Annual International Investment panel held that week in New York, drawing members of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE) and other esteemed attendees from the industry.

Across myriad points of view, diverse audiences, and throughout our travels and tours, one thing was clear: RICS’ commitment to facilitating the advancement of a healthy infrastructure sector at home and abroad. We know that success breeds public confidence, which enables more infrastructure projects to happen. This forms what can be a virtuous cycle enhancing the public interest - all very consistent with our mission as a 21st century professional body.

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