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Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework

FLASHBACK TO 2016: “Asset Management BC and the Partnership for Water Sustainability are collaborating to connect the dots between asset management and water sustainability. Everyone should know that the time to shape future life-cycle costs is at the community planning front-end. Our message is explicit: get it right at the front-end; avoid a liability,” stated Wally Wells (in an article published in Asset Management BC Newsletter, June 2016)


“Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A Framework for BC is the lynch-pin for a water-resilient future. The BC Framework makes the link between local government services, the infrastructure that supports the delivery of those services, and watershed health. Today, it is no accident that asset management and water sustainability are both top priorities for local governments. All those involved in land development have a role to play in achieving Sustainable Service Delivery. The players include land use and infrastructure professionals. Sustainable Service Delivery is the singular aim. Asset Management is the means to achieve the aim,” stated Wally Wells.

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DEALING WITH UNCERTAINTY AND MANAGING RISK: “Climate change impacts are risks which can be addressed by aligning asset lifecycles to performance or change thresholds which consider how levels-of-service are likely to deteriorate in response to climate changes impacts,” stated Robert Hicks (Summer 2021 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter)


“If we look at the variability in climate change impact scenarios that may occur within many asset lifecycles, we may get distracted by the uncertainty and statistical variance of the magnitude among the anticipated changes for key parameters that inform levels-of-service. Another way to consider this variance and uncertainty is to consider the time-range that a key performance threshold might be reached. For asset management, the consideration is how and when assets might be compromised in their lifecycle by climate change,” stated Robert Hicks.

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For those who wonder about the ‘story behind the story’ of British Columbia’s Sustainable Service Delivery journey, Asset Management BC Executive Director Wally Wells has identified five Defining Milestones over the past two decades that have re-shaped how local government does business (Summer 2021 issue of Asset Management BC Newsletter)


“The approach BC local governments follow for their asset management process is enshrined in the document Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework. The important and telling part of the title is that Asset Management is a process to provide a sound basis for decisions relating to the function of service delivery. Assets exist and are created, upgraded, replaced, maintained, and operated to provide a service. There is no other reason for their existence than provision of the intended service,” stated Wally Wells.

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INTEGRATING NATURAL ASSETS INTO INFRASTRUCTURE ON BC’S SUNSHINE COAST: “During construction, we experienced a few 50mm rain events that we had to manage with fire pumps that pumped into the forest, dispersing through sprinklers. Amazingly though, we could see there was no pooling or surface movement. It was our first time seeing in real time what the forest could manage,” stated Michael Wall, Manager of Asset Management & Strategic Initiatives, qathet Regional District


“We received a proposal to manage stormwater using pipes, ditches, and a large sedimentation pond. It was going to cost roughly $850,000 and they were going to clear around a hectare of forest. Jason Gow, senior planner from the City of Powell River, and I went on site to review the proposed engineering design. We wondered why are we clearing a forest to put in infrastructure to manage run-off, when we know the forest can provide that service to some extent? We tried to look for any similar case studies for a “volume of water per area of forest” that can be safely managed, but we could not find anything,” stated Michael Wall.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “It is ironic that we began breathing life, meaning and more serious resources into the long-term management of our physical assets as soon as they began reaching ‘end-of-life’,” stated Diane Kalen-Sukra, former Chief Administrative Officer of Salmo, in an article published in the Winter 2021 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter


“We had the same late awakening with natural assets – overlooking them until our physical infrastructure was exposed as vulnerable to climate change and tight budgets highlighted the cost effectiveness and resilience of natural assets like aquifers and wetlands. These natural gifts we had unconsciously relied upon are now being evaluated and ascribed a dollar value. Perhaps once this work is done, we will realize again, that we are all heavily invested,” stated Diane Kalen-Sukra.

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APPLICATION OF BC’S FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “There are many considerations in a local government’s budget every year. The questions asked should revolve around service and risk. Are you asking the right questions?” – Wally Wells, Executive Director, Asset Management BC


“Asset Management BC has a program initiative underway to operationalize asset management. We have selected a cohort of seven local governments and First Nations communities in different regions. These are demonstration applications and cover a range of situations along the Asset Management Continuum. The understanding gained from this process will inform evolution and application of the BC Framework. We have asked each participating government to identify a barrier to sustainable service delivery. We are working our way through a process with each one to overcome that specific barrier,” stated Wally Wells.

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THE NATURAL ASSET SOLUTION: “Innovation in asset management is most likely to occur when the focus is on the end goal of Sustainable Service Delivery,” stated Gracelyn Shannon, co-author of an article about a capital project in the qathet Regional District that integrated a natural asset as an alternative to concrete or pavement (Winter 2021 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter)


“qathet Regional District, in collaboration with the City of Powell River, has undertaken a capital project which uses forested Natural Assets to support stormwater management services. Rather than fixating on the details of the original proposed engineered design, the project team was able to step back and recognize the opportunity to use a Natural Asset solution which saves forest and taxpayer money. The project advances the natural asset management maturity of qathet Regional District,” stated Gracelyn Shannon.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “By taking the long-term view we strive to address the renewal, maintenance and replacement needs of our assets while maintaining affordability and reliability for future generations,” stated Andy Wardell, Co-Chair of the Asset Management BC Community-of-Practice, in the Winter 2021 Newsletter


“Financial health and providing for a long-term sustainable future are top priorities for local governments. This paper profiles two key financial indicators that are integral to how the District of North Vancouver measures service, financial and asset sustainability. As municipalities and their assets are the foundation on which our community standards of living are built, planning and reporting on key financial sustainability indicators is critical to our municipality’s long-term financial health,” stated Andy Wardell.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “We need a new way forward and a healthier narrative. We have been so focused on the right information that we are not cultivating the right conditions,” stated Christina Benty, former Mayor of the Town of Golden, in an article written for the Winter 2021 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter


“We must create environments where the brain can make rational, logical, evidence-based decisions. Here is what I believe to be true. Investing in psychological safety will do more for asset management than any data, software, policy, plan or roadmap. This is no longer an ideological argument; this is an economic one. Psychological safety as a shared belief that the environment is conducive to interpersonal risks,” stated Christina Benty.

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FLASHBACK TO 2008: “We really have to look at how we develop land. Ultimately this requires leadership and champions on the ground. The message is that the provincial government is rewarding good behaviour,” stated Glen Brown at the 2nd in the Comox Valley Learning Lunch Seminar Series on creating liveable communities and protecting stream health


An over-arching goal of Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan is to encourage land and water managers and users to do business differently. “Living Water Smart is a provincial strategy; we must look at it as a shared responsibility. It is not one strategy; the Province has a number of strategies. The Province is looking at raising the bar as far as what we are trying to accomplish with standards and provincial legislation,” stated Glen Brown.

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