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Contextual Resources

PROFILE IN COURAGE: “There is a special type of courage that Council needs to have to say, ‘give us the naked truth’. There is not a lot of political up-side to shining a light on infrastructure challenges. Oak Bay Council did that, no holds barred,” stated Christopher Paine, Director of Financial Services, when he explained the vision of Council in setting the direction for Oak Bay’s Sustainable Infrastructure Replacement Plan


“Two things about Oak Bay are quite unique. First, I know of no other situation where an engineering department and a finance department are so much in lockstep on a unified vision for asset management. That was really spurred by Council’s culture. That is the second thing. They knew there was an issue with an aging infrastructure because the visible signs were there. They trusted staff and they started investing heavily in infrastructure funding. Anybody who is going to hear or read about the Oak Bay story, the thing that they really must understand is the role of Council,” stated Christopher Paine.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT CONTINUUM: “Implementation of asset management along with the associated evolution of local government thinking is a continuous process, not a discrete task. We needed a way to illustrate this diagrammatically. This led us to the concept of a continuum to illustrate sustainable service delivery,” stated Glen Brown, General Manager (Victoria Operations), Union of BC Municipalities


Glen Brown coined the term Sustainable Service Delivery in 2010. Formal branding came with rollout of “Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework” in 2015. The emphasis on service is a game-changer. Under Glen Brown’s leadership, Asset Management BC uses the term Sustainable Service Delivery to focus local government attention on desired outcomes. These flow from policy objectives in Living Water Smart to implement a life-cycle approach to asset management AND eliminate the unfunded gap for infrastructure replacement.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Asset management reduces my risk and gives me confidence so I can focus on optimization, performance and efficiency at the Wastewater Treatment Plant,” stated Anna Agnew, the Town of Gibson’s level 4 lead operator, in an article written for the Asset Management BC Newsletter (October 2021)


“Imagine yourself as the lead water and wastewater operator at your organization. At the front lines of it all managing or preventing failures, one after the other. You know the system inside and out and have grown a professional pride and ownership over the system. However, potential mechanical failure or permit violation is always on your mind. You know you need a better system in place than you have,” stated Anna Agnew. “We had the right combination of the people on the team, the right support and tools at the right time, a clear road map we set up, leadership’s support, and a stubbornness and commitment to the end goal. We started small.”

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Experience with a great many consultants over the past 20 years reveals that in the absence of client stated clearly defined parameters, most consultants tend to default to cookie cutter report formats,” wrote Joe McGowan, Director of Public Works (retired) with the City of Cranbrook, in an article written for the Asset Management BC Newsletter (October 2021)


“The majority of consultant asset management (AM) related reports describe a catastrophic scenario where the municipality is in a crisis situation due to large portions of its infrastructure deemed to be past its useful life. The reports often communicate the need for immediate replacement of assets at costs that are multiples, if not tens of multiples of the municipality’s annual capital budget. So, why is this occurring? Municipal governments are not providing outside consultants with clear direction as to the nature of the problem being explored and the specific details required by the client of any analysis,” stated Joe McGowan.

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ADAPTING ASSET MANAGEMENT TO CLIMATE REALITIES: “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. Lifecycles must therefore be considered and re-aligned with the new changing ‘normal’ conditions,” stated Robert Hicks, Senior Policy and Process Engineer, City of Vancouver (November 2021)


A constant challenge for planning is not to prevent past events, but instead is to use past experiences to inform and create flexible strategies for the present and the future. Furthermore, this need for flexibility is not restricted to the immediate scope of the problem at hand; but must also consider the broader juggling of evolving local government priorities and service demands This leads to the challenge of assessing problems with sufficient complexity to arrive at flexible and resilient solutions. while at the same time not being overwhelmed and paralyzed by over-analysis,” stated Robert Hicks.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “There has been much talk recently about including natural assets and green infrastructure in asset registers and asset management plans. However, to do this, you need to determine appropriate values for assets in these categories,” wrote Bernadette O’Connor, Editor, in the Summer 2021 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter


“Each natural / green asset can be recorded in a similar way to built assets. Many natural assets, however, will not have a beginning date and they will not have a fixed lifespan. For example, assets such as open waterways are maintained in perpetuity. Once natural / green assets are listed in an asset register  or inventory, you need to consider how to report the current value, the replacement value, and if the asset is to be included or excluded from a replacement program,” stated Bernadette O’Connor.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The incorporation of climate change into business as usual is clarified by way of the planning process: Asset management + Natural assets + Climate change adaptation = Community resiliency,” wrote Christine Callihoo (Summer 2021 issue of Asset Management BC Newsletter)


“The track record of urban settlements being perpetuated in hazardous areas with little abatement has resulted in an increase in vulnerability of our assets which results in the degradation of these assets and interruptions in the expected levels of service. Therefore, the call to encourage registered professional planners to come together with asset managers becomes an understandable priority. Both the asset management planning framework and the community planning framework resemble each other; planning is planning is planning,” stated Christine Callihoo.

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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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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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