The Public Infrastructure Dilemma – How Will We Sustain Our Water, Our Streets and Ourselves?

Note to Reader:

The 2011 State of the Island Economic Summit in Nanaimo includes four pre-Summit sessions on the afternoon of October 18. One of these is hosted by Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (CAVI) in association with the VIEA Sustainability Task Force,

Branded as a “Forum within the Summit”, this session will focus on solutions to the “Infrastructure liability” challenge confronting all local governments. The Comox Valley is a provincial demonstration region for a regional and replicable approach to Sustainable Service Delivery. The Comox Valley regional team will tell their story and provide a context for open dialogue about challenges and solutions.

To download a document that explains the Forum structure and foreshadows what will be covered, click on Convening for Action Vision for the Forum within the Summit

THE PRESENTATION TEAM will include Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability, Tim Pringle, President, Partnership for Water Sustainability, Eric Bonham, CAVI Leadership Team, Jack Minard, Executive Director, Comox Valley Land Trust, Domenico Iannidinardo, Manager of Environment and Resource Integration, TimberWest Forest Corporation, and key Engineering, Public Works, Property Services and Planning staff from Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland, and the Comox Valley Regional District.

Forum Within the Summit

“Sustainable Service Delivery is the Province’s branding for a comprehensive approach to infrastructure asset management. This approach goes beyond an accountant’s life-cycle analysis. The paradigm-shift starts with land use planning and determining what services can be provided sustainably, both fiscally and ecologically,” explains Kim Stephens.

Kim stephens (120p) - 2009“A primary driver for doing business differently is the unfunded infrastructure liability. This refers to the financial challenge currently facing all local governments. The challenge is sometimes referred to as ‘the 20/80 rule’ because the initial capital cost of municipal infrastructure only represents about 20% of the ultimate life-cycle cost. Paying for the other 80% is at the heart of the public infrastructure dilemma. Each year the funding shortfall grows.”

Showcasing the Comox Valley Regional Team

“On October 18 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo, the Forum within the Summit provides us with the opportunity to showcase how one region – the Comox Valley – is responding to the challenge and developing a regional response to infrastructure liability,” states Kim Stephens.

“Four local governments (Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland, Comox Valley Regional District), the Comox Valley Land Trust, and TimberWest are striving to work across boundaries; align efforts at a watershed scale; and walk the talk in applying the ‘4Cs’ – that is, communicate, cooperate, coordinate and collaborate.”

“The Forum comprises two parts. First, the Comox Valley Regional Team will tell their story and share their experience. Our approach is to inform and educate so that participants will have a common understanding of challenges and solutions. This will set the scene for a town-hall sharing and learning segment where participants will explore how their communities and regions can learn from and adapt the Comox Valley experience.”

An Integrated Watershed Approach to Settlement

“In recent years, there has been a series of regional initiatives undertaken in the Comox Valley, namely: conservation, sustainability, growth, water and sewerage. As an outcome of a professional development program organized under the CAVI umbrella, the Comox Valley Regional Team developed a branding graphic (see below) to conceptualize what a vision for balance and integration would look like,” continues Kim Stephens.

“By working together as a regional team and focussing on commonalities, an over-arching goal of the regional team approach is to achieve what the Comox Valley is branding as An Integrated Watershed Approach to Settlement. This watershed-based approach considers longevity, focuses on what happens after developers hand-off municipal infrastructure, gets it right at the front-end, and prepares for the future.”

“A key message is that all those involved in land development have a role to play in achieving Sustainable Service Delivery. Local governments can develop a truly integrated Asset Management Strategy that views the watershed and the strategy through an environmental lens.”

“In collaborating as a regional team, the ultimate goal is to maximize the intersection of the elements that comprise An Integrated Watershed Approach to Settlement. This means creating linkages among the different area of action – that is, what the plans will achieve,” concludes Kim Stephens.

To Learn More:

The story of the Comox Valley Regional Team is the featured article in the Summer 2011 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter. To download a copy of the article, click on Comox Valley Local Governments Showcase A Regional Response to Infrastructure Liability

For information about the 2011 Summit, including registration, click on Once there, and to register for the ‘Forum within the Summit’, select The Public Infrastructure Dilemma – How Will We Sustain Our Water, Our Streets and Ourselves?