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Contextual Resources

ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “The question often comes up, when is asset management over or complete? As long as you own assets, never! The process is not static, but the inputs are constantly changing as assets are added, deleted, replaced, or upgraded,” wrote Wally Wells, Executive Director of Asset Management BC, in the Summer 2020 Newsletter


“The primary cause of the ‘infrastructure gap’ is that we operate on today’s budgets without much attention to the ageing assets and future requirements for replacement or renewal. Or at least that is the way we operated up until now. The asset management process provides the tools to address this gap and hopefully prevent the gap from growing by planning, methodically, for the short and long term. The BC Framework is deliberately titled, “Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework”. The operative word is ‘sustainable’ — both economically and physically,” stated Wally Wells.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “We are still at the front end of our asset management journey, but we have been able to adapt to this unexpected change in operating conditions brought on by the global health pandemic,” stated Austin Tokarek, Asset Coordinator with the Cowichan Valley Regional District (Asset Management BC Newsletter, Summer 2020)


“Prior to this change, the CVRD, as an organization, recognized the value of a Strategic Asset Management Plan that defines levels of service, includes a risk management framework for managing climate change impacts, identifies infrastructure condition and priorities for renewal projects, and that attempts to identify future demand scenarios and break down the functional silos established by each department. This strategy enables an understanding of the systems within our community, interactions between staff, infrastructure requirements, defined service levels, and the costs to deliver those services,” stated Austin Tokarek.

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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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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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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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BREAKING DOWN SILOS: “If asset management for sustainable service delivery is so simple and logical, why are we not getting it?” asks Wally Wells, Executive Director, Asset Management BC (July 2019)


“Different generations have different perspectives because of the way they grew up which formed beliefs and thinking patterns. This message really brings to light that different audiences will resonate with different messages in different ways,” wrote Wally Wells for an article co-authored with Kim Stephens and Cory Stivell. “Good messaging is what provides an opportunity to change a perspective which in turn aspires action. So maybe the question is: Are you considering your different audiences and ‘generational ways of thinking in your messaging process and content?’ If not, why not?”

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YOUTUBE VIDEO: “A simple challenge to a municipal councillor or regional board member is: Why would you take on another unfunded liability called drainage – which is what you have been doing for a lifetime!,” stated Kim Stephens, keynote speaker at the Nanaimo Water Stewardship Symposium (April 2018)


“An educational goal is that those who are involved in municipal land use and drainage would understand the vision for ‘Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management’. It is an educational goal. Part of that is the paradigm-shift to recognize watersheds as infrastructure assets,” stated Kim Stephens. “The significance there is that people in local government get it, in terms of whether you use the word deficit or liability, that we don’t have the money to refinance or replace our existing core infrastructure such as water, sewer or roads.”

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