After years of neglect, Canada’s creator economy is finally getting some recognition — and some money to go with it.
When Doug Ford’s Conservative government was re-elected in Ontario this past June, that province’s on-again, offagain plan to build Highway 413, a new route across the north end of the Greater Toronto Area, received a significant boost; or so it seemed.
Over the years the 59-kilometre corridor has had its ups and downs. It has been touted for its potential to ease gridlock yet derided for the environmental footprint it would leave across a sensitive greenbelt that successive governments have pledged to protect.
During the month-long campaign, pundits billed the vote as a referendum about the highway, which would skirt around Brampton and Vaughan. However, with information about species at risk living along the proposed route coming to light after the election, the project remains on precarious ground.
Still, despite a range of environmental, economic and geopolitical pressures, many road, bridge and tunnel projects remain ongoing and look to keep road crews busy across Canada over the next few years. While not an exhaustive list, the following spotlights and profiles in five regions across the country help highlight some of the ongoing prospects for roadbuilding that will be happening in the coming years.
Construction of the Highway 99 Tunnel, rebuilding flood-damaged highways, and multiple side-road projects are keeping B.C. roadbuilders busy, but Highway 1 continues to lead the way as a multi-year road improvement endeavour.
The details vary by segment, but the overall goal is to improve safety and expand one lane in each direction to two while building barriers and landscaped medians to support a 100 kph speed limit. Much of the work also includes expanding brake check areas, adding acceleration and deceleration lanes, improving passing opportunities to accommodate increased traffic, and enhancing active transportation.
Work is being completed in phases and has been underway for nearly a decade. Segments immediately east of Kamloops are long done, and a two-kilometre stretch east of Revelstoke at Illecillewaet was finished in November 2021. Construction is also progressing on new four-laning segments in Chase and Salmon Arm.
Three phases of work through Kicking Horse Canyon have similarly widened 21 kilometres of narrow, winding two-lane highway across some of Canada’s most mountainous terrain, and a $440.6-million design and build contract has been awarded to Kicking Horse Canyon Constructors for a fourth 4.8-km section. The consortium for this segment includes Aecon Group, Parsons and Emil Anderson Construction. Work is slated for substantial completion in winter 2023-24.
Also on tap are a 4.3-km, $243 million stretch from Ford Road to Tappen Valley Road, which will see the Tappen Overhead Bridge replaced and widened; construction of the new $123.7 million four-lane Quartz Creek Bridge; and the projected $224.5 million replacement of the R.W. Bruhn Bridge. Contractors for currently active projects include: Dawson Civil (Chase Creek Road to Chase West), CIF Construction (Chase West to Chase Creek Bridge), Springline Construction Services (Salmon Arm West), and Pennecon Heavy Civil (Quartz Creek Bridge).
BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association president Kelly Scott calls the entire billion-dollar-plus package a significant investment that stands to enhance safety and efficiency.
“The work continues to bolster the western trade corridor we keep talking about,” he says. “This is a critical artery. All communities will benefit from the improved, efficient, safe road system, with better access to health care, education and supplies.”
In announcing a three-year, $1.5 billion plan for Manitoba’s network of highways, Manitoba’s Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk emphasized the importance of the routes to trade and commerce.
While ongoing work on the northsouth Highway 75 corridor is designed to improve access to and from U.S. markets via North Dakota, the Winnipeg Perimeter Highway is a key project for which investment is expected to ring in at more than $346 million.
“Our government recognizes targeted investments in roadways and bridges are foundational to our economic growth and the quality of life for all Manitobans,” Piwniuk said in an April budget announcement. “Advancing our highway network will enable market access for international, interprovincial and regional movement of goods, and will position our province to become a national transportation hub.”
Chris Lorenc, president of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association, says the multi-year capital program for highways recognizes the critical role transportation infrastructure plays in economic growth.
“Manitoba’s economy relies on trade for about 54 per cent of its GDP, and the Perimeter Highway and Highway 75 are two of the key trade gateways and corridors in the province,” says Lorenc. “The fact that the province has identified, or is in the process of identifying, trade as an economic-enabling instrument is important, and we’re glad that the Perimeter is getting this kind of attention.”
With a new interchange at St. Mary’s Road underway, and another at McGillivray Boulevard set to go, Lorenc anticipates improvements to overall traffic flow.
“These are all factors that are required to ensure you’re not start-stop, start-stop, start-stop. They will improve safety as well as the general comfort and ease with which product can be moved around.”
Lorenc says Canada needs a sustainable, predictable, incremental national plan that can be coupled with concurrent provincial investment strategies focusing on efficient and cost-effective trade gateways and corridors.
“The federal government has allocated $640 million to enhance trade gateways and corridors over the next five years, which is a drop in the bucket,” Lorenc says. “There’s no national plan recognizing that 66 per cent of Canada’s GDP is generated by trade.”
The Ile-aux-Tourtes bridge in Montreal and Ile d’Orleans bridge near Quebec City stand to keep work crews busy for the next few years. Of particular note, however, is a new bridge being built to replace the aging Jacques-Bizard Bridge, which dates to 1965 and is the lone road link between Montreal and Ile Bizard.
The $85 million structure, first approved in 2015 and slated to open in 2023, with landscaping and finishing work to carry into 2024, is to be located next to the existing bridge and is intended to address increased congestion by enabling 30,000 vehicles to cross the Riviere des Prairies on a daily basis while facilitating active travel with a two-way bike path and a widened sidewalk.
The lead contractor on the project, EBC Inc., started work this past spring. The project will see approaches to adjacent intersections redesigned and a fourth vehicular lane added to end the need to continually change the directionality of a middle lane.
Electrical networks and cabling and sewer and water lines are also being installed and renewed to improve services on the island. The new bridge will also include a lookout, which is being installed in the middle of the bridge, and the adjacent Parc Denis-Benjamin-Viger is being redeveloped. Urban furniture will feature throughout the structure.
To attain the bridge’s projected 100-year life span, engineers proscribed galvanized reinforcing steel, high performance coating and improved drainage systems to add reinforcement and cope with de-icing salt and freeze-thaw cycles.
“This project is a fine example of efficient economic stimulation,” says Gisele Bourque, CEO of the Quebec Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association. “These are structuring projects that put several types of jobs and businesses to work. Starting with general contractors and their subcontractors, this type of project involves several specialties … and also requires the involvement of many suppliers.”
Bourque points to a clear link between public infrastructure investments and longterm economic performance.
“Investments in public infrastructure are necessary for a healthy economy, not only in times of crisis but also in times of economic growth,” she says, noting that the construction industry is a major economic force in the province. As a whole, it represents 14 per cent of Quebec’s GDP.
When blasting started earlier this summer, the Yukon government heralded the $160-million replacement of the Nisutlin Bay Bridge as critical to the local community, territory, country and continent.
The bridge, billed by the government as the largest capital project in Yukon history, crosses Teslin Lake north of the Yukon-B.C. border and keeps traffic flowing along the Alaska Highway, a major artery for travel, goods and essential services.
The original bridge, built in 1953, was aging, and the government wanted a modern-day structure to accommodate increased traffic volumes, including trucks bringing goods and services to the rest of the territory and into Alaska.
The new concrete and asphalt bridge was designed in collaboration with the Teslin Tlingit Council, which signed a project charter with the territory to formalize plans to minimize disruptions from construction and maximize local economic benefits.
The new bridge will be 483 metres long, nearly 13.5 metres wide to accommodate heavier truck traffic, and will include two lanes of traffic, a widened shoulder for cyclists, and a sidewalk that’s lit and separated from traffic. A walkway will also be built underneath the bridge so pedestrians and snowmobiles can cross safely.
Project spokesperson Krysten Johnson, from the Government of Yukon’s Department of Highways and Public Works, says local employment is key to the project and Graham Infrastructure, the lead constructor, has committed to prioritizing hiring Teslin-based businesses, contractors and tradespeople.
“This specific project will ensure a number of local opportunities and community development opportunities including involvement in environmental monitoring, gravel pit development, and the design and installation of artwork to be installed on or near the new bridge,” Johnson said. Project completion is slated for early 2026, and the current bridge, in service 20 metres away, will be demolished when that happens.
Highway 413 may be facing uncertainty, but road signs along Highways 400 and 404 declaring “The future site of the Bradford Bypass” suggest shovels may soon be on their way to the Greater Toronto Area’s northern reaches. While still at the planning stage, this 16.2-kilometre route linking the two north-south highways enjoys relative support with far less opposition than what Highway 413 has faced.
Plans call for a 100-metre-wide rightof- way with four lanes and a mix of grass medians and concrete barriers.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has retained AECOM Canada to coordinate work on the preliminary design, including a provincial environmental assessment. And, with no federal assessment expected, provincial projections call for design completion by early 2023.
Andrew Hurd, director of policy and stakeholder relations with the Ontario Road Builders’ Association, says the bypass was included in this past spring’s provincial budget and, while the post-election budget had yet to be reintroduced at press time, the government looks poised to reintroduce largely the same document.
“Government projections indicate that commuters using the highway will save up to 35 minutes and that construction will support an estimated 2,600 jobs per year during construction and generate an estimated $274 million in annual GDP,” Hurd says.
Hurd considers projects like this good news for Ontario’s economy. “Anytime there’s a substantial amount of work in a given area it supports local economies in addition to the provincial GDP.”
With population growth projected to continue across southern Ontario, Hurd also pointed to ongoing work to widen Highway 401 and improve Highway 7 between Guelph and Kitchener, coupled with work on rail and other public transit systems, as vital to supporting trade and other economic activity.
Saul Chernos is a freelance writer and regular contributor to On-Site.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Stores are selling winter clothes from last season in the middle of summer. Repair shops lack spare parts for appliances. There’s a waiting list to buy a new car.
Egypt, a country of more than 103 million people, is running low on foreign currency needed to buy essentials like grain and fuel. To keep U.S. dollars in the country, the government has tightened imports, meaning fewer new cars and summer dresses.
For the nearly third of Egyptians living in poverty, and the millions more in poor conditions, the country’s economic woes mean life is much harder than off-season shopping — they’re finding it harder to put food on the table. A decade after deadly protests and political upheaval rocked the Middle East’s most populous nation, the economy is still staggering and has taken new hits.
Fatima, a 32-year-old cleaner in Cairo, says her family stopped buying red meat five months ago. Chicken also has become a luxury. She’s borrowing from relatives to make ends meet.
She’s worried about the impact of high prices on Egypt’s social fabric. Asking to be identified only by her first name for fear of reprisal, she worries that crime and theft will increase “because people won’t have enough money to feed themselves.”
For decades, most Egyptians have depended on the government to keep basic goods affordable, but that social contract is under pressure due to the impact from Russia’s war in Ukraine. Egypt has sought loans to pay for grain imports for state-subsidized bread. It’s also grappling with surging consumer prices as the currency drops in value. The threat of food insecurity in the world’s largest importer of wheat, 80% of which comes from the war-torn Black Sea region, has raised concerns.
“In terms of, like, bread in exchange for freedom, that contract got violated a long time ago,” said Timothy Kaldas, an economic expert at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.
Annual inflation climbed to 15.3% in August, compared with just over 6% in the same month last year. The Egyptian pound recently hit a record low against a strengthening U.S. dollar, selling at 19.5 pounds to $1. That has widened trade and budget deficits as foreign reserves needed to buy grain and fuel plunged by nearly 10% in March, shortly after Russia’s invasion sent commodity prices soaring and investors pulled billions of dollars from Egypt.
Egypt has few options to deal with the hole in its finances. As with previous crises, it’s turned to Gulf Arab allies and the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.
A new IMF loan would buoy Egypt’s dwindling foreign reserves, which have fallen to $33 billion from $41 billion in February. A new loan, however, will add to Egypt’s ballooning foreign debt, which climbed from $37 billion in 2010 — before the Arab Spring uprisings — to $158 billion as of March, according to Egyptian central bank figures.
Leaders blame the challenges on the coronavirus pandemic, which hurt the vital tourism industry, and price shocks sparked by the war in Ukraine. They’ve also faulted revolutionaries and those who may have backed the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Why don’t you want to pay the cost of what you did in 2011 and 2013?” President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said in televised remarks this month. “What you did — didn’t that negatively impact the economy?”
He was referring to protests, which toppled Egypt’s longtime president, ushered in a divisive Muslim Brotherhood presidency, and resulted in a populist-backed power grab by the military and el-Sissi’s ascension to the presidency.
The former military general said the fallout from those years cost Egypt $450 billion — a price, he said, everyone must bear.
“We solve the matter together. I am saying this to all Egyptians … we are going to finish this matter together and pay its price together,” he said.
Critics, however, argue the government has squandered chances to make real reforms and is overspending on superfluous mega-projects as it builds a new administrative capital. The government has touted the construction boom as a job producer and economic engine.
The state’s hold over the economy and the “outsized role of military-related enterprises” have historically crowded out foreign investors and the private sector, said Hasnain Malik, who heads equity research at Tellimer, an emerging-markets investment analysis firm. The government’s plans to sell off minority stakes in some state-owned enterprises “does not necessarily fix this problem,” he said.
Egypt’s elite can withstand rising costs, living comfortably in Nile-view apartments and gated communities beyond the hustle of Cairo. Life for middle-class Egyptians is deteriorating, said Maha, a 38-year-old tech company employee and mother of two who asked to only be identified by her first name to speak freely.
“I think we will eventually move down the social ladder and end up below the poverty line,” she said.
The government took out a $500 million loan from the World Bank this summer and $221 million from the African Development Bank to help buy wheat. That covers around six weeks of a bread subsidy program supporting 70 million low-income Egyptians.
China assisted with a $2.8 billion currency swap. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar stepped in with pledges of $22 billion in short-term deposits and investments.
“Having what they define as stability in Egypt is in their strategic interests. They really don’t want to go through a repeat of 2011 and its aftermath,” said David Butter, an associate fellow at international affairs think tank Chatham House. Gulf Arab states are also making strategic investments in Egypt for the short and long-term, he said.
The government announced an “extraordinary” social protection program to roll out this month, targeting 9 million families with extended cash transfers and food coupons. This is on top of other assistance programs, including pop-up stands selling subsidized food staples. Officials point to how they managed the supply crunch brought on by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, saying there is enough wheat and other basic food items for six months.
For some, leaving has promised more hope. Egyptians rank behind only Afghans as the top nationality of “irregular arrivals” to Europe so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration’s flow chart. Most arrive by sea.
As pressure mounts on the Egyptian pound, the government could devalue the currency again.
“It’s going to hurt. It’s going to increase inflation,” said Kaldas, the Tahrir Institute economic expert. “Subsidies on bread is only one line-item in a family’s budget. So, for a lot of families, this is still going to be a lot of pain.”
Follow Aya Batrawy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ayaelb.
Aya Batrawy, The Associated Press
Some businesses and communities in the Outaouais say they’re willing to comply with controversial Bill 96 French-language amendments — but warn that doing so may come at a cost.
Bill 96 proposes to revoke any Quebec municipality’s bilingual status where fewer than 50 per cent of citizens have English as a mother tongue.
Jurisdictions without this status must offer services only in French, with few exceptions.
The bill has some Quebec business leaders worried about the potential impacts on the province’s economy. Dozens have signed an open letter that was published online Friday, asking the government to put the law on hold.
“It’s a good thing to protect French … I’m all for it,” said Nicolas Roy, a Gatineau, Que., businessman and the CEO of Epsi, a firm specializing in human resources management.
While he unreservedly supports the principles and foundations of the law, Roy still signed the letter.
“I think we should better consider the impact such a bill could have on small and medium enterprise,” he said.
The bill’s strict language requirements make Quebec a less attractive place to work compared to other provinces, Roy said. It’s also a barrier to recruiting people from outside Canada, he added, as they’d need to successfully learn French within six months of immigrating.
As Quebec businesses already struggling to attract skilled labour stare down a potential recession, Roy said these kinds of obstacles may have devastating impacts.
“It’s a burden [that’s] very heavy,” Roy said.
In the western Quebec community of Mansfield-et-Pontefract, the bill could affect the many English-speaking tourists and cottagers that arrive each spring and summer, said Mayor Sandra Armstrong.
The small municipality about 120 kilometres northwest of Ottawa is “already a French-speaking community” and operates almost entirely in French, Armstrong said. So do its neighbours, Fort-Coulonge and Île-du-Grand-Calumet, she added.
Still, providing services to English-speaking tourists is crucial to the local economy, Armstrong said.
“For now, we will continue to serve them in French or English to help them out. Then we’ll see what the government is really asking each municipality about that,” Armstrong said.
“There’s no hiding the fact we have to respect that law.”
Quebec Immigration and Labour Minister Jean Boulet was in the Outaouais Friday, and when asked about the impact of Bill 96 on small and medium-sized local businesses, said they’d be supported while the law is applied.
The government would support the transition to French-only workplaces through Francisation Québec, Boulet said, which will deliver French-language learning services.
Francisation Québec is set to take effect on June 1, 2023.
Still, Bill 96 may “go too far in a constitutional sense,” said Gabriel Poliquin, a lawyer with Ottawa law firm Olthuis Van Ert.
The bill is a significant modification of Quebec’s Charter of the French Language, Poliquin said, and aspects of the charter have been previously challenged in court.
Poliquin said that he expects Bill 96 to be challenged as well, possibly under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Constitution Act.
“Even if certain provisions of the law survive those legal challenges, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are good ideas or practical ideas from a public policy standpoint,” said Poliquin.
Changes to laws related to Bill 96 laws will gradually come into effect between now and 2025.
The creator economy, made up of individuals and businesses making content on social media platforms and the organizations that support them, is growing as more homegrown creators turn content, such as videos, into cash. Early stage investment funds have taken notice, and are starting to sink money into creators working with platforms that include Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube, Meta Platforms Inc.’s Instagram and ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok. Meanwhile, resources and organizations designed to foster influencers’ growth are also cropping up, priming the industry for a new era of growth in Canada.
“Canadian influencer talent, for better or worse, has predominantly been hard to find. I don’t think there’s a lack of talent here. I think it’s the lack of opportunity,” said Matt Roberts, managing partner at ScaleUP Ventures Inc. which led a Series A financing round in 2018 for Toronto-based creator marketing company Hashtag Paid Inc., which stylizes its name as #paid.
“Up until now, it’s been very ad hoc how all these (stakeholders) work together,” he said.
Creators are contributing no small amount of money to the Canadian economy. The exact figure is hard to pin down, but in 2021, YouTube Canada alone contributed $1.1 billion to the country’s gross domestic product, an Alphabet-commissioned report by Oxford Economics said, and the number of YouTube channels earning $100,000 or more annually rose 35 per cent year over year.
Around the world, there are more than 50 million people who consider themselves creators, according to SignalFire, a venture capital firm in San Francisco. Across all major platforms, there are more than two million professional, full-time creators, while more than 45 million call themselves part-time, amateur creators. Estimates of the size of the global creator economy hover at above US$100 billion.
So far, the path to homegrown success hasn’t been easy for Canadian creators, especially for those producing content in crowded niches such as comedy. Canada’s creator ecosystem has historically been too small to support influencers’ brands, Roberts said. That has forced many fledgling influencers to pack up their gear and leave the country completely to build their careers. One popular destination is Los Angeles, California, home of Hollywood and a key market for social media stars, where you can’t turn a corner without bumping into a talent agency.
That’s exactly where Inanna Sarkis went when she embarked on her acting and social media career. In 2016, the Woodbridge, Ont., native completed her criminal justice degree, left her condo in downtown Toronto and hopped on a plane to L.A.
It was there she began her meteoric rise on social media, gaining thousands of followers by the day, which helped boost her chances of landing an acting role at auditions. Before video app Vine, owned by Twitter Inc., shut down in 2017, she amassed more than 100,000 followers. Sarkis currently has close to four million subscribers on YouTube and 15.2 million followers on Instagram.
She’s now been in movies and a handful of television series, most notably a horror flick released last year called Seance.
“L.A. was so advanced and everyone was literally already creating so much content at the time,” Sarkis said of the creator climate in 2016 via video call from her Los Angeles home. “There was already built-in infrastructure because of the acting world.”
It was through acting classes that she met some of the rising stars who went on to dominate Vine, the popular social media app of the time, known for its six-second video format. She first met Melvin Gregg — now an actor in the show Nine Perfect Strangers on Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime streaming service — who then introduced her to the likes of King Bach, DeStorm Power and Anwar Jibawi, all stars in their own right. Together they built a support system to foster each other’s creativity.
“Everyone who wanted to act or wanted to create, they all moved into one building, which was (known as) Vine Street in Los Angeles. You would go outside and there’d be Viners in every corridor creating content,” she said.
It was a far cry from what she experienced in Canada.
“When I came back to Toronto … (Vine) was just this thing that existed and (people) would watch it but never really create content for it,” Sarkis said.
Another industry-watcher saw opportunity in that dearth of support for Canadian content creators. Ahmed Ismail founded Hxouse, an incubator for creators, in 2018 with his friends Abel Tesfaye, the popular R&B singer known as The Weeknd, and La Mar Taylor, The Weeknd’s creative director.
They envisioned Hxouse as a space in Toronto’s east end for aspiring creative entrepreneurs to learn through mentorship programs, networking opportunities and educational sessions about how to innovate and capitalize on opportunities in the creator economy.
Through Hxouse, creators gain access to the knowledge the three have gained from their connections to the entertainment industry. “You (get) to learn from the best of our friendships and our relationships,” Ismail said.
In September, Ismail launched CNCPT in partnership with YouTube Canada, an iteration of Hxouse’s initial offerings meant to target budding Canadian creators. YouTube Canada is funding a separate space in Hxouse’s offices for creators, new and seasoned, to shoot content and use tools such as cameras and editing software.
The two companies are still working out the kinks of what CNCPT will become, but YouTube said it will provide $100,000 grants for creative entrepreneurs to accelerate their online businesses. It also plans to fund and help create the curriculum for two annual accelerator programs beginning early next year that will be free for participants.
Ismail said the collaboration with YouTube is a step in the right direction for the local creator economy.
“This is how we help build Canadian talent pipelines so more creatives and entrepreneurs realize their potential and find success and also stay in Canada while they’re still global phenomenons,” he said.
Ismail and his team are betting the creator economy will take off in Canada. The XO Crew, the name of The Weeknd’s label and associates, joined ScaleUP’s Roberts in the $18.9-million Series A round that #paid raised.
Other businesses that help manage marketing deals between brands and creators are also popping up. Adrian Capobianco, founder of BILI Inc., launched the Because I Love It platform earlier this year aimed at connecting creators and influencers with businesses seeking to make advertising deals. In June, the company raised $600,000 in its first seed round and is currently trying to raise money for a second financing round.
“The creator economy is not just an economy in the dollars and cents aspect. It really is a very robust ecosystem for creators, for influencers and for brands,” Capobianco said. “Interest from brands is growing rapidly and interest from creators continues to scale.”
• Email: email@example.com | Twitter:
Bill Blaikie, longtime Manitoba politician who served federally and provincially, dead at 71 – CBC.ca
Storm Fiona knocks out power as it hits eastern Canada – Al Jazeera English
NASA’s DART spacecraft is about to smash into an asteroid – Freethink
Artists of the past captured historical events: Renfrew Art Guild – Ottawa Valley News
Alek Manoah the man as Blue Jays score big bounce back win over Rays – Toronto Sun
Q&A With Javier Peres, Founder Of Peres Projects Art Gallery – Forbes
As pandemic measures are lifted, social media use has declined with the exception of TikTok – The Conversation Indonesia
Last West Coast Delta IV Heavy to launch with NROL-91 – NASASpaceFlight.com – NASASpaceflight.com