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Contextual Resources

LOCAL GOVERNMENT POLICY IMPACTS RIPPLE THROUGH TIME: “Read, ponder, and absorb. After that, learn some more. It is a process. You will then be primed to make informed policy choices that achieve the goal of Sustainable Service Delivery in your community,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, in an essay written for new politicians


“My over-arching message to those elected in October 2022 is succinct: Get the water part right in a changing climate, and you will be amazed how other parts of the community resiliency puzzle then fall into place. A supporting message is this: Our land ethic has consequences for water. This means elected representatives need to understand why development practices disconnect the water balance pathways that power stream-ecology. They also need to understand why a water-first approach to green infrastructure can reconnect the two,” stated Kim Stephens.

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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,” foreshadowed Glen Brown, Chair of Asset Management BC, in a co-authored article that is one of the first articles to introduce Sustainable Service Delivery as an objective


Glen Brown is the visionary and thought leader who coined the term “sustainable service delivery”. This way of viewing the local government sphere of responsibility changes everything about how local governments do business in an era of rapid change. “Level-of-Service is the integrator for everything that local governments do. What level of service does a community wish to provide, and what level can it afford? Everyone will have to make level-of-service choices. Establish the level-of-service that is sustainable to protect watershed health,” stated Glen Brown.

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AFFORDABLE AND SUSTAINABLE RE-INVESTMENT IN MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE IS ESSENTIAL: “The risk and consequences of not taking action for infrastructure renewal are substantially higher and more consequential than for Master Plans which are ‘futures’ documents,” stated Wally Wells of Asset Management BC


As an advocate for Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery, Wally Wells has done a public service by drawing attention to the urgent need to engage and inform elected representatives so that they truly understand “risks and consequences” associated with their core responsibility, infrastructure. “An Asset Management Plan is about what is necessary to continue providing EXISTING services at existing levels, Thus, a decision not to invest in infrastructure renewal would risk reducing or compromising EXISTING levels of service,” stated Wally Wells.

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AFFORDABLE AND SUSTAINABLE RE-INVESTMENT IN MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE IS ESSENTIAL: “Too often, thinking stops after the capital investment is made. Yet everyone needs to be thinking in terms of life-cycle costs,” stated Glen Brown, Chair of Asset Management BC


“The core document for asset management for BC local governments is Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework. The title is deliberate and important because the ‘function’ and responsibility of Municipal Councils and Regional Boards is Sustainable Service Delivery. The process to support decision making is Asset Management. The Framework provides the basis for the entire asset management process for our 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,” stated Glen Brown.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Ask a citizen in a public place if they expect their local government to fully maintain its assets to the end of their useful life and then replace them. They will look at you, like duh, of course! The public expects this level of service. Our professions should require it,” wrote Kim Fowler (Fall 2022 issue of Asset Management BC Newsletter)


“Local governments manage 60% of the physical assets in Canada on 8 cents of the tax dollar. These assets comprise the economic backbone of our communities – they are essential – and so should their management. While all local governments do asset management and financial planning, the integration needs to enable discussions with our community about level of service, required maintenance and the cost of replacement. As professionals, we owe our communities those discussions. The resilience of our communities increasingly relies on the integration and the discussions will break the poor practices through awareness,” stated Kim Fowler.

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ACCOUNTANTS DO NOT KNOW HOW TO ACCOUNT FOR NATURAL ASSETS: “The risk with the accounting profession is that they would include natural assets in local government financial statements in a way that is neither meaningful nor helpful,” believes Wally Wells, well-known to BC local governments as an Asset Management Master, Mentor and Coach


“People look at asset management as a function, but it is not a function. It is a process, and the process for getting you to Sustainable Service Delivery is asset management. You cannot legislate a process. For this reason, I am really, really, really nervous about the way the accounting profession will try to treat natural assets in a financial statement. Accountants do not know how to deal with the subject of natural asset management. If accountants cannot explain it properly, then inclusion of natural assets in PSAB 3150 is either going to be dismissed in practice and/or done poorly. In my view, that is the bottom-line,” stated Wally Wells.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “Asset management isn’t a ‘core part’ of city government, it is city government,” wrote Duane Nicol, Chief Administrative Officer with the City of Selkirk, Manitoba (Winter 2022 issue of Asset Management BC Newsletter)


“We are much more emotional and habitual than we are prepared to admit. What we do shapes what we think, just as much as what we think informs our actions. What researchers studying behaviour tell us is that at the very least, the link between thinking and doing is iterative. This single idea makes the daunting notion of remaking municipal operations via asset management, not just possible, but manageable. To change the paradigm, given enough time, all you need to do, is change what you do and shape how people internalize the new behaviour,” stated Duane Nicol.

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NEWS FROM ASSET MANAGEMENT BC: Wally Wells hands the baton to David Allen to continue the “sustainable service delivery” mission and build on the foundation that is in place for encouraging fully integrated asset management in British Columbia (July 2022)


“Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework” redefines the context for deciding how infrastructure is planned, financed, implemented, and maintained in British Columbia. It raises questions about how communities would service urbanizing and redeveloping areas in future. The BC Framework 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.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “We know that having good succession plans in place is paramount to keeping the knowledge moving through the organization as key people leave. This is just one piece of the much greater puzzle,” stated Khalie Genereaux, Deputy Director of Finance with the City of Terrace, in an article written for the Asset Management BC Newsletter (July 2022)


“Small municipalities, such as Terrace, have limited resources to be able to take on something like Asset Management wholeheartedly and with focus. For most of us it is a corner of the desk project that we get to when we have time. We are now trying to change that, bit by bit. Although our level of human capital has not changed, our lens of how to view Asset Management has. The more we learn within the process and the results, it is no longer a matter of getting to it when we have time, but rather making the time to do it. Put simply, we cannot afford NOT to make this a priority,” stated Khalie Genereaux.

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AVOID THE PAIN, BE DELIBERATE, FUND THE PLAN: “Different local governments will always be at different points and different levels of maturity along the asset management continuum. This is why we focus on outcomes and do not prescribe what to do in BC,” stated Glen Brown, Chair of Asset Management BC


Glen Brown coined the term Sustainable Service Delivery in 2010. He synthesized three themes – financial accountability, infrastructure sustainability, service delivery – into an easy to remember phrase. “My inspiration came from Guy Felio. He said, ‘It’s all about the service’, because infrastructure/ assets are worthless IF they do not provide a service. That is what resonated with me. Also, Guy Felio said, for any asset management approach to be successful, it must not focus on the infrastructure asset by itself. That way-of-thinking applies to nature and the environment as well,” stated Glen Brown.

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