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living water smart bc

    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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    LOCAL GOVERNMENTS NEED REAL NUMBERS TO DELIVER GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE OUTCOMES: “Decisions by elected Councils and Boards are made at the parcel scale. Getting it right about the financial valuation of ecological services starts at the parcel scale and recognizing that every parcel is interconnected within a system. EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is the only ecological methodology that deals with the parcel,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair, when the Partnership for Water Sustainability released a downloadable resource about the story behind the story of EAP as part of its Living Water Smart Series (March 2022)


    “Land supports assets that provide services, and the decisions about land are made at the parcel scale. Communities are tied to the past through historical subdivision of land. Restoring the health of natural systems within the built environment means we must understand the ‘biology of land use’. The human analogy is DNA. The strength of EAP is in how it looks at and values streams as systems and as a land use. A stream corridor is a land use because it satisfies two criteria: it is defined in Riparian Areas Protection Regulations Act, and it has a financial value,” stated Tim Pringle.

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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 SERVICE DELIVERY FOR WATERSHED SYSTEMS: “The BC Framework points the way to a holistic and integrated approach to asset management. Nature, and the ecosystem services that it provides, are a fundamental and integral part of a community’s infrastructure system,” stated Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability


    “The BC Framework focuses on desired outcomes rather than prescribing specific methodologies, thereby allowing local governments to develop and implement an approach that can be measured and incremental, tailored to the individual needs and capacities of individual local governments. The focus on outcomes is consistent with the ‘enabling philosophy’ that defines the approach to regulation in BC. The Province recognizes that communities are in the best position to meet their own unique needs and local conditions,” 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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    ARTICLE: Stream Corridor Management – in a local government asset management strategy that considers the natural environment, are streams worth the same as constructed assets? (Construction Business Magazine, Jan-Feb 2022)


    Beginning in 2006, Construction Business magazine has published an article every two years about the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia. “I contact industry experts regularly to share insights on important issues for our readers. Kim Stephens of the Partnership for Water Sustainability is one such expert that I turn to when seeking information on water related topics whether it’s strategies, policies, programs, or sustainability. His knowledge and contributions are much appreciated in our efforts to provide the most relevant information to the industry,” stated Cheryl Mah.

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    POLICIES, DECISIONS, AND RAINFALL INDUCED FLOODING IN CITIES: “Communication is king. As urban decision making brings in more voices, and climate change becomes less of an abstract future but a present-day reality, it is imperative for policy to understand what the different perspectives are and how to weigh their importance,” stated Charles Axelsson, PhD, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice in the Science and Management of Climate Change (March 2022)


    “One of the main takeaways from my doctoral work is there is still a lot of disagreements in communication throughout this decision-making process. Within policy itself, there is a disconnect between the way the problem of stormwater adaptation is framed theoretically versus perceived in reality. Theoretically, there is a large focus on adaptation. However, in my research I found that many of those involved in policy still place a higher importance on the political limitations of policy making and the economic costs of project management.,” stated Charles Axelsson.

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