As the Liberal government takes steps to launch Canada’s infrastructure bank, Toronto has been selected as the headquarters for the new institution.

Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, made the announcement Monday. BNN first reported that several sources and industry observers expected Toronto to be named the location for the bank's headquarters. 

“This would certainly be an opportune time to announce where the bank will be located,” said one source directly involved with the bank’s creation.

Brook Simpson, press secretary to Minister Sohi, initially declined to comment on whether Toronto had been selected as the headquarters for the bank.  Don Peat, a spokesperson for Toronto Mayor John Tory, also declined to comment.

Legislation to create the infrastructure bank is currently being debated in the House of Commons. "Now that the legislation establishing the bank has been introduced, announcing its location is a critical next step," Mark Romoff, president and CEO of The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, told BNN in an email.

As BNN previously reported, Toronto has been seen as a frontrunner for the headquarters, given it is already home to several leading pension funds with a history of investing in infrastructure.  Those include the CPPIB, which has nearly $300 billion in assets. The OMERS pension fund has more than $85 billion in assets, while the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan oversees more than $170 billion in assets. In February, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named former Teachers’ CEO Jim Leech as special advisor to the infrastructure bank.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau originally unveiled the government’s plan to create the bank during last fall’s economic update, following a recommendation from his Advisory Council on Economic Growth. The bank is expected to help fund massive infrastructure projects in Canada by attracting large institutions from around the world as partner investors. Its goal is to leverage up to five dollars in private money for each dollar the federal government puts in.

While cities including Calgary and Montreal had been considered for the headquarters, industry observers feared locating the bank anywhere but Toronto would send the wrong message to potential investors about the bank’s independence. “If you’re living in North Dakota, you have to accept that New York is the finance capital of the United States. I think in Canada, we have to learn to do the same,” former federal cabinet Minister David Emerson previously told BNN in an interview. “Toronto is the centre of our financial industry. And any foreign investors who come to Canada to explore financings go to Toronto.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory previously indicated the city is an ideal spot for the bank to be based. “The Mayor believes Toronto would make the most sense as headquarters for the infrastructure bank,” Keerthana Kamalavasan, Tory’s senior communications advisor, told BNN in a March email. “We are the financial centre of the country where billion-dollar infrastructure deals are being discussed every day and where billion-dollar infrastructure projects are being built in the next five to ten years.”

The government has said it plans to launch the infrastructure bank before the end of the year.  The bank’s mandate is to invest $35 billion, with $15 billion available for projects that don’t guarantee a full return on investment. The other $20 billion will be used to invest in equity or loans that won’t count against the government’s spending.

Some of the bank’s other priorities include choosing its leadership team, such as its CEO and its board of directors. ”Finalizing the bank's location will give important impetus to recruiting the Board Chair, its Directors and the CEO, all necessary to ensure the bank's smooth liftoff," Mark Romoff, president and CEO of The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, told BNN in an email.