COLLABORATION, CAPACITY, CULTURE AND COUNCIL: “Implementing asset management can happen at every level in local government. But to effectively achieve organization-wide Sustainable Service Delivery it must be led by the CAO and supported by Councils and Boards,” stated David Allen, Past- Chair (2012-2020) Asset Management BC Community-of-Practice

Note to Reader:

On May 17, 2022, Waterbucket eNews celebrated “Asset Management Awareness Day in British Columbia” by featuring Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework, released in December 2014. This is a case study illustration of how to achieve desired outcomes provincially by influencing behaviour at the local government scale over time.

The 4Cs for Sustainable Service Delivery: Collaboration, Capacity, Culture & Council

“After becoming CAO of Courtenay, BC in 2013, we began exploring how to implement an Asset Management Program at the City. Collaborating with external agencies opened our minds to thinking of AM practices in far broader terms, so that they might be applied in any community, regardless of size,” states David Allen, Past-Chair (2012-2020), Asset Management BC Community-of-Practice.

“We didn’t realize it, at the time, but it led to us eventually conclude that operationalizing AM would involve four separate, interconnected initiatives that would be the pathway for our journey toward Sustainable Service Delivery: They coalesced into what we locally refer to as The 4C’s – Collaboration, Capacity, Culture, and Council.”

“It is all about building trust between Council and staff, keeping in mind what can realistically be accomplished by an organization, and being clear about the limitations of the current state-of-practice and knowledge and our ability to explain what the numbers mean in that context.”

‘Sustainable Service Delivery’ explained

Glen Brown coined the term Sustainable Service Delivery in 2010 when he was an Executive Director with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Formal branding came with release of Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework in December 2014, and rollout in 2015. The emphasis on service is a game-changer for local government infrastructure asset management.

At that time, and thanks to the early work of the then newly formed Asset Management BC, chaired by Glen Brown, local governments were just starting to wrap their minds around the ‘20/80 Rule’ and the implications of the 80% as an unfunded liability.

A Synthesis of Three Ideas

During a curriculum planning session for a local government workshop organized by the Partnership for Water Sustainability, Glen Brown synthesized three themes – financial accountability, infrastructure sustainability, service delivery – into a single easy to remember phrase: Sustainable Service Delivery. The rest is history, as they say.

Glen Brown coined the term to focus local government attention on two desired outcomes that flow from policy objectives in Living Water Smart, BC’s Water Plan.

Desired outcome #1: Local governments would shift the spotlight from the infrastructure itself to the service AND the level-of-service that the infrastructure asset provides.

 Desired outcome #2: Local governments would implement a life-cycle approach to asset management AND eliminate the unfunded gap for infrastructure replacement.

Vision for fully integrated and sustainable service delivery in BC

“The BC Framework also points the way to a holistic and integrated approach to asset management.  Nature, and the ecosystem services that it provides, are viewed as a fundamental and integral part of a community’s infrastructure system. This is not to suggest that all ecosystem services provide a municipal function,” adds Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

“The ultimate vision for fully integrated Sustainable Service Delivery is that communities would protect, preserve, restore, and manage ‘natural assets’ in the same way that they manage their engineered assets.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete story published on May 17th 2022, download a PDF copy of “Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Integration of Stream Systems into Sustainable Drainage Service Delivery”.