Aecon-led construction consortium awarded $1.2bn transit contract in Toronto
The Mosaic Transit Group, a consortium led by Canadian construction giant Aecon, has been awarded a new $1.2bn contract by transport agency Metrolinx for the building of the Finch West Light Rail Transit project.
The 11km light rail transit (LRT) line will be built through northwest Toronto, connect the Finch West subway rail station to Humber college with a total of 16 stops running the course of the line.
“Aecon continues to demonstrate proven capabilities to secure and deliver large-scale, complex infrastructure projects,” said John Beck, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aecon Group.
“We look forward to working with Metrolinx, Infrastructure Ontario and our partners to execute this world-class project.”
Those making up the Mosaic Transit group - Aecon, ACS Infrastructure Canada and CRH Canada – will each retain a 33.3% stake in the LRT project, whereafter Aecon and ACS will each have a 50% equity in the 30-year maintenance contract that Metrolinx has also awarded.
“The Finch West light rail transit will be a significant addition to Toronto’s transit system and Aecon is pleased to play a key role in connecting communities across the Greater Toronto Area,” Beck continued.
The building is expected to complete by 2021, construction work forecast to begin in Q2 this year.
G7 launches global infrastructure investment for China’s BRI
The G7 Group has launched an infrastructure investment push aimed at countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The launch took place during the G7 summit in Cornwall. While no extra state funding for infrastructure schemes had been confirmed, the “Build Back Better World” (B3W) plan, part of the G7’s infrastructure investment, looked to attract private finance.
The summit’s communiqué described the plan as a “step change” in nations’ approach to infrastructure financing, while the White House said the B3W plan would be able to cover Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Indo-Pacific.
What is China’s Belt and Road Initiative? (BRI)
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is China’s programme to build both physical and digital infrastructure to connect several countries from Asia to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
It was adopted in 2013 by the Chinese government as a way of expanding the nation’s global influence. China’s motives for the plan include state sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity, and the protection of its political and social stability system. China is also using the plan to ensure continued economic and social development.
Why is the G7 Group competing with China?
While the reason for countering China’s BRI plan has not specifically been stated, official documents have suggested that it could be due to transparency, good governance, and “values”. However, in the past, the US has criticised the BRI projects, saying that they lack these qualities. Other opposition groups in recipient countries have also criticised the plan.
“Until now, we haven't offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards, and our way of doing business … [B3W] won't just be an alternative to the BRI, but we believe will beat the BRI by offering a higher-quality choice”, a senior administration official said in a news briefing.
However, a G7 spokesperson for the UK argued that there was more to the investment push than competing with China. He said: “This project stands on its own merits and is in line with the G7’s priorities on ensuring the world builds back better and greener from the pandemic”.
.Whether or not the G7’s investment initiative will be able to match China’s BRI is unclear, but a 2018 report from ICBC Standard Bank shows that after the first five years of the programme, some $330bn of transport and $266bn of energy projects were announced, underway or complete.