Canada’s first National Infrastructure Summit kicked off this morning. Emcee for the opening round of speeches was Dianne Buckner of Dragon’s Den fame. Mayor Fiacco spoke about the importance of dealing with infrastructure needs and how widespread the problem is. Regarding the summit, he said, “This dialogue is the first major step in collectively identifying and managing our challenges and opportunities…. We need to stretch the boundaries of the traditional when it comes to infrastructure.”

Groanworthy jokes aside (Fiacco on using Twitter at the summit: “Last week our council got a lesson on how to ‘tweet.’ They’re a bunch of tweeters.”), this seems to be developing into a productive and interesting gathering.

Before the speeches began I had a chance to speak with Calgary mayor, Naheed Nenshi. I mentioned to him that Calgary is the city that Regina both aspires to be and also that we’re trying to avoid becoming, and wondered if he had any advice he could pass on as our city grows. He replied:

Make sure that you contain sprawl. Sprawl is the killer of efficiency. It’s so hard to serve by transit, to build those rec centres. So make sure that you’re being thoughtful about intensifying your greenfield an brownfield neighbourhoods. And really make sure that your new suburbs are built as complete communities where people can live, work and play in close proximity and they’re well served by transit.

You can listen to the complete interview below. (It’s only four minutes long.)