THE FIRST DECADE OF PHILADELPHIA’S GREEN CITY, CLEAN WATERS PROGRAM: “Communities across the country are watching, trying to learn how to do this. When you try to change the character of a neighborhood, it’s very difficult,” stated Nancy Stoner, President of Potomac Riverkeeper Network
Philadelphia’s program involves creating ‘greened acres’ — expanses of impervious land that are transformed either to absorb the first 1½ inches of rainfall or send it into rain gardens or other local green infrastructure systems. The City has created more than 1,500 of a projected 10,000 greened acres. From planning through construction and ongoing maintenance, the installations have required coordination among city agencies and with schools, businesses, nonprofit entities, politicians, residents, developers and landowners.
REPORT ON: “Application of EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, to Shelly Creek for Financial Valuation of Ecological Services and Worth” (Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC; released April 2020)
“We arrived at an important insight about ecological assets; that is, an ecological commons is a land use. Regulations define stream functions and setback requirements. Whether it is a pond, wetland or riparian zone, it can be measured. The assessed values of adjacent parcels can be used to provide a value for the natural commons. The inference is that the area of the natural commons would be zoned residential or whatever if the stream was not there,” stated Tim Pringle.
DEMONSTRATION APPLICATION OF ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: Shelly Creek in the City of Parksville and Regional District of Nanaimo, completed February 2020
“The members of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society have devoted over 10 years of time and energy towards restoring the health of Shelly Creek for salmon and trout. Our volunteers have contributed over $90,000 to the ‘maintenance’ of the creek and its’ fish populations. Our members are impressed with the scope of the analysis brought forward with this EAP application. We can now see how our ongoing investments, as stream stewards, not only can improve the worth of a creekshed’s biophysical functions, but also improve riparian land values as well,” stated Peter Law.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
GLOBAL CRISIS REPRESENTS AN OPPORTUNITY: “The 2020 coronavirus pandemic may lead to a deeper understanding of the ties that bind us all on a global scale and could help us get to grips with the largest public health threat of the century, the climate crisis,” wrote Arthur Wyns, Climate Change & Health Advisor to World Health Organization
“The global health crisis we find ourselves in has forced us to dramatically change our behaviour in order to protect ourselves and those around us, to a degree most of us have never experienced before. This temporary shift of gears could lead to a long-term shift in old behaviours and assumptions, which could lead to a public drive for collective action and effective risk management. Even though climate change presents a slower, more long-term health threat, an equally dramatic and sustained shift in behaviour will be needed to prevent irreversible damage,” stated Arthur Wyns.