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Contextual Resources

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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BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2022 / FINANCIAL CASE FOR STREAMS: “Green infrastructure state-of-the-art in the United States is now close to where the BC state-of-the-art was in 2005” – based on an interview with Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski, lead researcher for the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, this is the key takeaway from the first systematic review of the use and definition of the green infrastructure concept in local government plans in the United States


“There are a lot of ‘greening’ and sustainability initiatives, but they are not conceptually unified. They are neither thought about in terms of interdependencies nor systemically. We had this moment of realization about the diversity of plans when it clicked in our minds about analyzing all the plans in terms of three big buckets: something that is very stormwater-focused, something that is very land-focused, and something that is trying to integrate the two. In the process, we started to uncover this grain of systems thinking within green infrastructure planning,” stated Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski.

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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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ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE DRAINAGE SERVICE DELIVERY: “The stream is the natural component of the municipal ‘drainage service’. The elephant in the room is the unfunded liability for urban stream stabilization and restoration. The ‘drainage service’ is the neglected service and the cost of neglect grows over time,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC (May 2022)


“Words matter. In the local government setting, what is a natural asset, really? It is a vague term that has become a buzz word that is not helpful. Why not use plain language that creates a mental picture? Stream corridor systems, parks, and conservation areas – these are land uses that constitute ‘natural assets’. From a municipal asset management perspective, however, the most important is stream systems because they provide a ‘package of ecological services’ – drainage, habitat, recreation, and enjoyment of property. Streams are a major focus for community involvement,” stated Kim Stephens.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT IS AN AWKWARD TERM: “We have managed assets for decades and understand what that is and what we are doing. Suddenly we took two very simple words, reversed them, and went from managing assets to asset management. The result? We confused everyone,” stated Wally Wells, Executive Director of Asset Management BC


“An issue we have in communicating our message often seems to relate to the use and interpretation or misinterpretation of words or phrases. Too often we use technical terms within our own skill sets, not appreciating that others may not know what we are really saying. Asset Management, itself, is an intimidating term. The process of asset management or ‘managing assets’, is not new. The process, as defined today, just leads to better decisions across the entire organization for priority setting with limited budgets. However, we have succeeded in confusing everyone,” stated Wally Wells.

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ARE STREAMS WORTH THE SAME AS CONSTRUCTED ASSETS? – “EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, supports local governments that intend to include stream systems in asset management calculations and the M&M – that is, maintenance and management – of drainage services. Through EAP, local governments have a guiding philosophy, methodology and metrics to make a financial case for stream systems,” stated Ray Fung, retired Director of Engineering with the District of West Vancouver, in an article published by Construction Business magazine (March 2022)


“Beyond local government, the provincial umbrella for EAP is ‘Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework’. The driver for EAP is degradation of stream channels and streamside riparian setback zones. Over the last six years, the EAP methodology and metrics have been tested, refined and mainstreamed. The methodology has allowed consideration of opportunities taken or missed and risks avoided or incurred. On an ongoing basis, it allows for the question, how well are we doing? In short, EAP provides local government with a path forward to address loss of riparian integrity along streams,” stated Ray Fung.

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ABOUT EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: “Local governments need real numbers to deliver green infrastructure outcomes. It is that simple. Tim Pringle’s unusual blend of education and career experience sets him apart from the usual suspects in the ‘ecological services crowd’. He is a sociologist who has a working knowledge of real estate finance. This experience propelled his breakthrough in developing the metrics for EAP,” observed Kim Stephens (March 2022)


“Tim Pringle has demonstrated why and how ‘the parcel’ holds the key to integrating line items for maintenance and management (M&M) of streams systems in asset management budgets. Local government elected representatives and staff understand the parcel perspective because this is what they work with every day. Tim Pringle emphasizes that decisions by elected Councils and Boards are made at the parcel scale. Getting it right about financial valuation of ecological services starts at the parcel scale. EAP is the only ecological methodology that deals with the parcel,” stated Kim Stephens.

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SUSTAINABLE CREEKSHED SYSTEMS AND THE ASSET MANAGEMENT CONTINUUM: “We needed a way to illustrate diagrammatically what the journey by a local government to the eventual Sustainable Service Delivery destination would look like. This led us to the concept of a continuum. The relevance of this way of thinking is that 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, Asset Management BC Chair, when he unveiled the continuum at the 2015 Annual Workshop organized by the Partnership for Water Sustainability


“Sustainable Service Delivery builds on the principles of Asset Management. It integrates land use, infrastructure servicing, financial and ecological planning. Emphasis is on the Levels-of-Service that assets provide, and ‘what level is affordable’ over time. Nature is an asset and provides ‘services’. The benefits and value of ‘design with nature’ solutions grow over time. The BC Framework is a holistic and integrated approach to asset management. It identifies natural services and the use of natural resources – and how they are part of / integrated into the overall services provided at a local government level,” stated Glen Brown.

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EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS, IS GAME-CHANGING: “EAP provides communities with a philosophy, pragmatic methodology and metrics to make the financial case for annual investment to prevent degradation and improve the condition of ecological assets that constitute a stream corridor system,” stated Kim Stephens, when the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC released its report on the Financial Case for Bowker Creek in the Capital Regional District (October 2021)


“Use of EAP to establish the ‘financial case for the stream’ would put maintenance and management (M&M) of stream corridor systems on an equal footing with constructed assets (municipal infrastructure). Once local governments embrace a guiding philosophy that ecological services and use of land for development are equally important, then the next step is for them to include M&M budgets for stream systems in their Asset Management Plans. This would begin the process of reconnecting hydrology and stream ecology by design.” stated Kim Stephens.

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IN MEMORIAM: “The University of Sheffield’s John Henneberry (1952-2021) was a source of inspiration for me when we were initially developing the methodology and metrics for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process. He identified the same methodological problems that we experienced in quantifying the financial value of ecological services. Natural systems do not dissect conveniently in order to be quantified and given financial value,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair (October 2021)


The range of issues John Henneberry (1952-2021) tackled was formidable. He worked alongside botanists, hydrologists, psychologists as well as economists, political scientists, geographers, planners and landscape architects, impressing all colleagues with his keenness to work with them and to grasp debates in other disciplines. He was especially good at motivating colleagues and bringing them together to work on socially relevant research. His approach was an inspiration to all. It was also why John was a great teacher and much admired by all his students.

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