Sustainable Service Delivery: Watersheds are infrastructure assets

Note to Reader:

Sitelines-Magazine_June2016_op-edSitelines magazine is a publication of the British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects (BCSLA). Published bi-monthly, BCSLA has a longstanding practice of inviting partner organizations to take on a co-editor role and provide the content for an issue featuring the partner.

The June 2016 issue featured the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. This allowed the Partnership to showcase initiatives and tools. Reproduced below is the article co-authored by Glen Brown and Raymond Fung.

Released in December 2014, the “Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework” establishes a high-level, systematic approach that supports local governments in moving toward service, asset and financial sustainability through an asset management approach.  Development of the Framework was led by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) in partnership with Asset Management BC (AMBC) and the Province.

Introducing the New Paradigm…..

“The Partnership for Water Sustainability is collaborating with the Union of BC Municipalities, Asset Management BC and the Province to profile, raise awareness and advance Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A Framework for BC. The Partnership is the champion for Step Three as shown on the accompanying Continuum graphic,” wrote Glen Brown and Raymond Fung.

Glen Brown

Glen Brown

Ray Fung

Ray Fung

Glen Brown is the General Manager, Victoria Operations, Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM). Raymond Fung is the Director of Engineering and Transportation, District of West Vancouver. Both Glen and Raymond are members of the Leadership Team, Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC.

To Learn More:

Download In this issue, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC presents WATER BALANCE PATHWAY TO A WATER-RESILIENT FUTURE, June 2016, to read the complete set of 9 articles published in Sitelines Magazine.

Asset Management Continuum

BC Framework

“Years in the making, the vision for Sustainable Service Delivery became a reality with rollout of the outcome-oriented BC Framework in 2015. Because it is a driver for tackling the unfunded infrastructure liability, the BC Framework has garnered both national and international attention.”

“The BC Framework is a game-changer because it is strategically aligned with asset management requirements under senior government funding programs, in particular the Gas Tax Program. The BC Framework also points the way to integration of natural systems thinking and climate change thinking into asset management.”

Asset Management & Ecosystem Services

“The ultimate vision for fully integrated Sustainable Service Delivery is that communities would protect, preserve, restore and manage natural assets in the same way that they manage their engineered assets.”

“A watershed, and the ecosystem services that it provides, is a fundamental and integral part of a community’s infrastructure. This is not to suggest that all ecosystem services provide a municipal function. But as an example, trees, soil, green spaces and water do contribute a valuable municipal function in maintaining the hydrologic integrity of a healthy watershed system.”

The Asset Management Journey

“Implementation of asset management along with the associated evolution of local government thinking is a continuous quality improvement process, not a discrete task. This ongoing process is incremental and scalable, involving: assessing capacity, demand and results; planning what needs to be done; and implementing the plans.  We needed a way to illustrate this diagrammatically, and thus communicate, 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.”

“The continuum bridges two pieces. One piece is recognition that the asset management process is founded on an incremental approach. The other piece is integration of natural capital, natural assets and watershed systems thinking.”

new paradigm

Moving Towards “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”

“As an example, the District of West Vancouver has been working through asset management tasks for many years.  In 2010, the municipality completed its first Storm Infrastructure Asset Management Plan.  This work inventoried the District’s municipal infrastructure and calculated the replacement value of the storm drainage system at $333 million in 2009 dollars.  An estimate of the financial resources required to support the renewal of all of the District’s storm drainage assets was provided, and Council endorsed an enhanced capital replacement program, as well as detailed condition assessment efforts to prioritize specific projects.”

“Meanwhile, the Town of Gibsons has recognized that natural assets (such as creeks, ditches and wetlands) reduce the need for engineered infrastructure for rainwater management.  Further, compared to engineered infrastructure, natural assets are potentially more cost-effective to operate and maintain, do not depreciate, and are carbon neutral or even carbon positive.  Yet currently, the Canadian Public Sector Accounting Board Standards do not allow for the valuation and recording of natural assets into local government financial statements.”

“Yet, both the approach of West Vancouver and Gibsons are needed; marrying the asset management process with an acknowledgement of the value of ecosystem services would allow human settlement to be balanced with ecology.  To this end, the Municipal Natural Capital Initiative (of which Gibsons is a convening partner) and the Ecological Accounting Protocol (an initiative of the Partnership for Water Sustainability) are two important projects advancing research and practice towards integrating natural capital into an asset management framework, which when refined and normalized would allow local governments to truly move towards Sustainable Service Delivery!”, concluded Glen Brown and Raymond Fung.

GAME CHANGERS (2014): It has taken more than a decade to implement a  policy, program and  regulatory framework that makes possible ‘Water-Resilient Communities