LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Avoid the Pain, Be Deliberate, Fund the Plan: Waiting for municipal infrastructure to fail means that you are forced into one path. And this is probably the most expensive path. Do not wait until things go wrong,” stated Dan Horan, Director of Engineering & Public Works, District of Oak Bay

Note to Reader:

Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the vision for Living Water Smart in British Columbia to build greener communities and adapt to a changing climate; and embrace “design with nature” approaches to reconnect people, land, fish, and water in altered landscapes. 

On May 17, 2022, Waterbucket eNews celebrated “Asset Management Awareness Day in British Columbia” by featuring Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework, released in December 2014. This is a case study illustration of how to achieve desired outcomes provincially by influencing behaviour at the local government scale over time.

‘Sustainable Service Delivery’ explained

Glen Brown coined the term Sustainable Service Delivery in 2010 when he was an Executive Director with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Formal branding came with release of Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework in December 2014, and rollout in 2015. The emphasis on service is a game-changer for local government infrastructure asset management.

At that time, and thanks to the early work of the then newly formed Asset Management BC, chaired by Glen Brown, local governments were just starting to wrap their minds around the ‘20/80 Rule’ and the implications of the 80% as an unfunded liability.

It is all about the service

“My inspiration came from Guy Felio, one of the original gurus of asset management nationally. Guy said, ‘It’s all about the service’, because infrastructure/ assets are worthless IF they do not provide a service,” explains Glen Brown.

“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.”

Why the BC Framework is a game-changer

“The BC Framework establishes expectations; it does not prescribe solutions. It is a game-changer because it redefines the context for deciding how infrastructure is planned, financed, implemented, and maintained. It raises questions about how communities would service urbanizing and redeveloping areas in future,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia.

“Most importantly, the BC Framework emphasizes the paramount nature of the services that constructed infrastructure provides. The BC Framework also shines the spotlight on what the life-cycle costs are over time to maintain, renew or replace assets such as pipes, pumps, roads and buildings.”

Vision for fully integrated and sustainable service delivery in BC

“The BC Framework also points the way to a holistic and integrated approach to asset management.  Nature, and the ecosystem services that it provides, are viewed as a fundamental and integral part of a community’s infrastructure system. This is not to suggest that all ecosystem services provide a municipal function,” continues Kim Stephens.

“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.”

To Learn More:

To read the complete story published on May 17th 2022, download a PDF copy of “Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Integration of Stream Systems into Sustainable Drainage Service Delivery”.