Towards an Eco-Asset Strategy: Capital Region’s Finance Committee informed by Town of Gibsons leadership and pioneering experience

Note to Reader:

At the July 2016 meeting of the Capital Regional District Finance Committee, Emanuel Machado shared the story of the Town of Gibsons Eco-Asset Strategy. He spoke about the efforts of the Town to integrate natural capital considerations into infrastructure management, using principles of asset management, financial planning and ecology.

The Town is THE Living Laboratory for the Municipal Natural Capital Initiative, created to support local governments in recognizing, measuring and managing the contribution that natural systems make to municipal service delivery, using asset management business processes.

Refinement of CRD’s
Asset Management Approach to include Natural Capital

Mayor Helps

Mayor Helps

“The town of Gibsons is leading the way in valuing and maintaining its ‘natural capital’ or ‘ecoassets’. Recently three other local governments in Canada have teamed up with Gibsons along with the David Suzuki Foundation to undertake a two-year pilot project, the Municipal Natural Capital Initiative,” wrote City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and District of Highlands Mayor Ken Williams in their Notice of Motion to the Finance Committee of the Capital Regional District (CRD). 

The purpose of the motion was to initiate refinement of CRD’s asset management approach to include natural capital.

Mayor Williams

Mayor Williams

“This pilot project will generate practices and approaches that will be useful with regard to valuation, accounting and maintenance of natural capital that is stewarded by local and regional governments. In the meantime, the CRD can take a leadership role as a regional government by beginning to evaluate, value and develop an asset management strategy for the ecosystem services provided by the region’s natural capital.”

Their 3-part motion included a Resolution that the CRD declare nature, and the ecosystems services that it provides, as a fundamental component of the region’s infrastructure system.

Town of Gibsons Eco-Asset Strategy

Nature is a fundamental component of a municipal infrastructure system and should be hard to ignore — but it regularly is, said Emanuel Machado, chief administrative officer for the Town of Gibsons.

Emanuel Machado_2014_4_120pMachado noted that such natural assets can provide some services at a lower cost than engineered alternatives, as they have no capital costs and often have lower operating costs.

In his presentation, he explained the Town’s Asset Management Policy.

The Town of Gibsons has created a practice that takes elements of asset management, financial planning and ecology “and uses a combination of these principles to, in essence, manage these assets,” Machado said.

The strategy focuses on identifying existing natural assets such as green space, forests, topsoil, aquifers and creeks that provide municipal services such as storm water management; measuring the value of the municipal services provided by these assets; and, making this information operational by integrating it into municipal asset management.

The innovation in this strategy is that it helps to explain the value of natural assets in terms of financial and management strategies.

To Learn More:

Download Nature’s assets valuable, CRD told to read the complete story as published in the Times-Colonist newspaper.

To view the presentation by Emanuel Machado to the Finance Committee, visit and select the archived video for July 6, 2016.