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asset management for sustainable service delivery

    How much should communities invest in protection of stream systems?


    “It is amazing that we have been able to produce a methodology that defines what a stream is, can find the value of the stream using impartial BC Assessment data, and add to that a riparian assessment that looks at the 30m zone and a further 200m upland area to evaluate the water balance condition and what is happening to water pathways,” stated Tim Pringle. “Because local governments need real numbers to deliver outcomes, we landed on a concept which we call the Riparian Deficit. This expresses three measures of value in a single number.”

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    AVOID THE PAIN, BE DELIBERATE, FUND THE PLAN: “Asset management for sustainable service delivery” is how communities can bridge the gap, or disconnect, between short-term and long-term thinking


    Glen Brown coined the term Sustainable Service Delivery in 2010. “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. 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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    Natural Asset Management: cutting through the rhetoric – “Recognize the importance of the stream in the landscape,” says Tim Pringle, Chair of the Ecological Accounting Process initiative


    “The land supports assets that provide services. And decisions are made at the parcel scale. Thus, we are tied to the past through historical subdivision of land. This means we must understand the biology of land use. The human analogy is DNA. Only EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, deals with the parcel. Decisions by elected Councils and Boards are made at the parcel scale. Thus, getting it right about financial valuation of ecological services starts at the parcel scale and recognizing that every parcel is interconnected within a system. EAP bridges a gap. The methodology and metrics recognize the importance of the stream in the landscape,” stated Tim Pringle.

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    ASSET MANAGEMENT IS AN AWKWARD TERM AND CONFUSES EVERYONE: “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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    EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS, IS GAME-CHANGING: Financial Case for Bowker Creek Daylighting in British Columbia’s Capital Region


    “Decision-making is the key. In the City of Victoria, we are creating new ways of making decisions about what we do with our assets, whether they be natural or hard. Embracing EAP would introduce a structured asset planning approach. It provides metrics for integrating natural assets into the municipal infrastructure inventory and place them on an equal footing with constructed/engineered assets. This provides a starting point for a balanced conversation about the services,” stated Trina Buhler.

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    EAP, THE ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS, IS GAME-CHANGING: “With all the talk about integrating natural assets into asset management, the players forget that nature is a system. They focus too much on specific aspects of the system, rather than its interrelated functions,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair


    “The EAP methodology focuses on the historical and current land use practices that have changed landscapes, modified hydrology, and have led to present-day community perceptions of the worth of the stream or creekshed and the ecological services it provides. A whole-system understanding is the starting point for developing meaningful metrics. Managing the built and natural environments as interconnected systems is a guiding principle,” stated Tim Pringle.

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    INTEGRATING NATURAL ASSETS INTO INFRASTRUCTURE ON BC’S SUNSHINE COAST: “During construction, we experienced a few 50mm rain events that we had to manage with fire pumps that pumped into the forest, dispersing through sprinklers. Amazingly though, we could see there was no pooling or surface movement. It was our first time seeing in real time what the forest could manage,” stated Michael Wall, Manager of Asset Management & Strategic Initiatives, qathet Regional District


    “We received a proposal to manage stormwater using pipes, ditches, and a large sedimentation pond. It was going to cost roughly $850,000 and they were going to clear around a hectare of forest. Jason Gow, senior planner from the City of Powell River, and I went on site to review the proposed engineering design. We wondered why are we clearing a forest to put in infrastructure to manage run-off, when we know the forest can provide that service to some extent? We tried to look for any similar case studies for a “volume of water per area of forest” that can be safely managed, but we could not find anything,” stated Michael Wall.

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    APPLICATION OF BC’S FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE SERVICE DELIVERY: “There are many considerations in a local government’s budget every year. The questions asked should revolve around service and risk. Are you asking the right questions?” – Wally Wells, Executive Director, Asset Management BC


    “Asset Management BC has a program initiative underway to operationalize asset management. We have selected a cohort of seven local governments and First Nations communities in different regions. These are demonstration applications and cover a range of situations along the Asset Management Continuum. The understanding gained from this process will inform evolution and application of the BC Framework. We have asked each participating government to identify a barrier to sustainable service delivery. We are working our way through a process with each one to overcome that specific barrier,” stated Wally Wells.

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    DID YOU KNOW: The function and responsibility of Municipal Councils and Regional Boards is “Sustainable Service Delivery”


    “The core document for asset management for BC local governments is ‘Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework’. The title of the Framework is deliberate and important. The Framework provides the basis for the entire asset management process for our 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 much attention and discussion focus on the Asset Management plan or plans, there is much more to the process than just the plan,” stated Glen Brown.

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