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Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework

INFRASTRUCTURE ASSET MANAGEMENT IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Glen Brown has provided leadership at a provincial scale to transform the phrase ‘sustainable service delivery’ into an actionable vision for local government,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability


The 20/80 Rule refers to the initial capital cost of municipal infrastructure being about 20% of the ultimate total cost, with the other 80% being an unfunded liability. This is a driver for doing business differently. “Tackling the unfunded infrastructure liability involves a life-cycle way of thinking about infrastructure needs and how to pay for those needs over time. This holistic approach is described as Sustainable Service Delivery. The link between infrastructure asset management and the protection of a community’s natural resources is an important piece in Sustainable Service Delivery,” stated Glen Brown.

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GUIDANCE DOCUMENT: “The core document for asset management for BC local governments is ‘Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework’,” stated Glen Brown, Chair, Asset Management BC


“The framework provides the basis for the entire asset management process for local governments to follow. Funding agencies, as part of funding applications, request communities to identify where they are within the asset management process using the framework. While there is much attention on the Asset Management plan, there is much more to the process than just the plan. The implementation strategy and long-term financial plan are more important documents than the asset management plan itself,” stated Glen Brown.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “In 2019, we updated the ‘Framework’ and added new supporting content in the form of four Primers that will support local governments in moving toward service, asset and financial sustainability,” stated Wally Wells, Executive Director, Asset Management BC


“Asset Management is an integrated process, bringing together skills, expertise, and activities of People; with Information about a community’s physical Assets; and Finances; so that informed decisions can be made, supporting Sustainable Service Delivery. Communities build and maintain infrastructure to provide services. Failure to care for our infrastructure, manage our natural resources and protect the benefits provided by nature risks degrading, or even losing, the services communities enjoy, and that future generations may rely on,” stated Wally Wells.

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GUIDANCE DOCUMENT: “Primer on Integrating Natural Assets into Asset Management” builds on foundations established by two initiatives – EAP, Ecological Accounting Process; and MNAI, Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (released by Asset Management BC, September 2019)


“The Primer on Integrating Natural Assets with Asset Management builds on the foundations established by two BC-based programs: EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process; and the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative. EAP and MNAI represent two points along a ‘green infrastructure continuum’. They are recent evolutions in an ongoing process in BC which dates back three decades. EAP and MNAI share the philosophy that communities can do a much better job of understanding, using and protecting the ecological services available to them in the local landscape,” stated Kim Stephens.

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COURTENAY’S ASSET MANAGEMENT BYLAW DECISION: “It was critical to carefully draft the content so it would rest upon a solid legal foundation, stay within Council’s authority, and be consistent with existing legislation and our own bylaws and policies,” stated David Love, the City’s Senior Advisor for Strategic Initiatives


“Once committed to ‘uprating’ our Policy to a Bylaw, the first step was to identify the distinction between the two. By doing this we verified a policy is a general statement of objectives to guide decisions on a particular matter. A policy may be readily altered by Resolution or at Council’s discretion, or even disregarded in decision-making with little or no legal or political consequence. If Courtenay was to become one of the few local governments to adopt an AM Bylaw in Canada, and possibly the first in BC, some staff work had to be done,” explained David Love.

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FLASHBACK TO 2015: Union of BC Municipalities and the BC provincial government jointly released “Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework” to set a new direction for achieving financial sustainability


“A province-wide, made in BC, asset management strategy that goes beyond the requirements of the Gas Tax Asset Management Framework, is beneficial for all local governments, as well as other organizations. The BC Framework released in December 2014 provides a high level overview of what is needed to develop, implement and maintain strong asset management practices for local governments,” stated Liam Edwards, Executive Director (Infrastructure and Finance, Local Government Division) Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “As an industry, we have done a very poor job of educating our community on stormwater infrastructure issues, especially on the connection between cost of service and level of service,” wrote Hal Clarkson, Certified Asset Management professional


“Across the country, our aging and crumbling stormwater infrastructure is causing localized flooding, water quality issues, road closures, delays in emergency response and loss of commerce. To make matters worse, our community officials and citizens often do not understand how a drainage system works or the effort required to keep it functioning at an acceptable level of service. My colleague, Brian Bates, refers to stormwater as the ‘forgotten infrastructure’, and he is right,”stated Hal Clarkson.

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FLASHBACK TO 2011 AND THE VANCOUVER ISLAND ECONOMIC SUMMIT: “A key message is that we must get it right at the front-end of the land development process in order to achieve long-term sustainability, especially financial,” stated Judy Walker, planner with the Village of Cumberland, at a pre-summit forum about the unfunded infrastructure liability as a driver for sustainable service delivery


“We have learned from Glen Brown and others that the change in approach starts with land use planning and recognizing that infrastructure and services can be provided sustainably, both fiscally and ecologically. Another key message is that everyone involved in land development has a role to play in achieving sustainable service delivery,” stated Judy Walker. “The topic for the town-hall part was Sustainable Service Delivery Means Integrate Land Use Planning and Infrastructure Asset Management.”

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FLASHBACK TO 2011: “The link between asset management and the protection of a community’s natural resources is emerging as an important piece in Sustainable Service Delivery,” stated Glen Brown in foreshadowing the ‘Primer on Integrating Natural Assets into Asset Management’, released in September 2019


“The term Sustainable Service Delivery describes a life-cycle way of thinking about infrastructure needs and how to pay for those needs over time. The challenge is to think about what asset management entails BEFORE the asset is built. This paradigm-shift starts with land use planning and determining what services can be provided sustainably, both fiscally and ecologically,” stated Glen Brown. “Land use planning in British Columbia may be significantly improved when integrated with asset management planning.”

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COLLABORATE / IMPROVE WHERE LIVE: ‘Sustainable Service Delivery’ refocuses business processes on how constructed and natural assets are used to deliver services, and support outcomes that reduce life-cycle costs and address risks (Asset Management BC Newsletter, Fall 2019)


Motivated by a shared vision for restoration of the aquatic environment in Burrard Inlet, three engineers with distinguished careers have been passionate and relentless in convincing Metro Vancouver to rethink the treatment process strategy for the new Lions Gate Treatment Plant. “Recent studies have shown harmful chemicals and pharmaceuticals present in local waters and in juvenile salmon. How stupid would it be to build a $778 million plant and have it out of date before it even opened,” stated Ken Ashley.

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