About this report

This report is the first in a series of updates on the progress being achieved by Canadian municipalities through FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Program (MAMP). Each report will focus on one of the five competencies from the Asset Management Readiness Scale. Each report incorporates real examples of what communities are doing to improve their decision-making on infrastructure as well as information on tools communities can use to better manage their assets.

 

MAMP offers grants to municipalities and funding to a network of partner organizations that provide training and practical support to help communities make better decisions on whether to replace or repair municipal assets, like roads, drinking water and wastewater systems.

FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Program (MAMP) helps municipalities improve their approach to infrastructure. One of the main competencies, or focus areas, that communities just starting to improve their asset management practices concentrate on is policy and governance.

This web-based report blends key findings from our MAMP program data with real examples of what communities are doing to improve their decision-making on infrastructure. You’ll also find practical tools you can use to help your municipality integrate asset management into its policy and governance activities.

How do policy and governance and infrastructure fit together?

Making good short- and long-term decisions about infrastructure requires a clear approach. One way that municipalities communicate their priorities and principles across departments and ensure coordinated management of infrastructure is through an asset management policy. An asset management policy influences service delivery decisions, from deciding what service to provide and when, through the installation, maintenance and eventual replacement of assets.

Incorporating asset management considerations into your municipal policies and objectives provides:

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  • a structure for your service delivery goals
  • a framework for how objectives can be achieved
  • organizational alignment and commitment

Where do communities get started?

Icon of bricks48% of municipalities who received a MAMP grant progressed at least one level along the Policy and Governance competency of the Asset Management Readiness Scale.

Communities who wish to improve their asset management practices should first assess what approaches they already have in place. FCM’s Asset Management Readiness Scale can help you evaluate where you are and identify areas for improvement to help you advance through our five levels of outcomes in five competency areas, which includes Policy and Governance.

The main areas communities work on to improve their asset management approach to policy and governance include:

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Creating an asset management policy or strategy: Connecting your asset management objectives and activities to your municipality’s strategic objectives will ensure you take the right steps for your community.

 

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Securing Council endorsement: Commitment and buy-in ensures budget and resources to tackle the asset management program.

 

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Developing a roadmap: Lays out the short-term plan for your community’s asset management approach.

 

What are MAMP funding recipients working on?

Since 2017, 45% of municipal grant recipients worked on policy and governance activities, leading to the creation or endorsement of

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144 Asset management policies

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100 Council endorsements of asset management policy or strategy

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72 Asset management strategies

 

As communities progress through the Asset Management Readiness Scale they are improving their infrastructure decision-making.

Who should work on policy and governance?

Based on our data, communities of all sizes, rural and urban, who received a grant to pursue work on policy and governance experience measurable changes.

  • Small, rural and remote communities: Communities that have a limited number of employees are seeing success in defining their policy and objectives, developing their asset management strategy and roadmap and measuring and monitoring the benefits of their efforts.
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49% of communities* with five or less employees saw measurable change in outcome areas (who received a grant from our Municipal Asset Management Program in 2019).

 

  • Communities just beginning to establish asset management practices: Municipalities are able to start working on their asset management approach without any expertise and still able to advance through the competencies of the Asset management readiness scale.

Most municipalities rated their policy and governance activities at level one or lower at the beginning their MAMP grant work or training and progress from there. For these communities, advancing along the scale meant formalizing an asset management policy and identifying short term actions that will help demonstrate progress.

Movement along the asset management readiness scale

Below are graphs demonstrating where communities who made progress in this competency rated their policy and governance activities on the asset management readiness scale before and after participating in MAMP activities.

Of the 160 municipalities who improved on the scale:

Graph that demonstrates what level municipalities are on the Asset management readiness scale before and after completing work related to their asset management grant. Graph demonstrates that municipalities progress on the scale.

Of the 26 municipalities who improved on the scale:

Graph that demonstrates what level municipalities are on the Asset management readiness scale before and after completing training related to asset management. Graph demonstrates that municipalities progress on the scale.

Unless specified, data provided about MAMP is cumulative from May 2017-April 2020.

In practice

What policy and governance asset management activities are communities working on? Check out these key learnings from communities across Canada.

Trail, BC

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Image source: Courtesy of the City of Trail

The City of Trail, BC (population 7,709), completed a Strategic Framework for Asset Management and Implementation Plan in 2019 using a MAMP grant. Now that it has moved into the implementation phase, the team is ready to offer some recommendations to others:

  • Focus on learning about the asset management program early in the process. It is critical that both employees and Council attend training, and the earlier, the better. Having everyone understand common goals and objectives is an important part of getting the asset management team and decision makers on the same page.
  • Clarify responsibility and objectives associated with tasks at each stage of the program. Many municipal employees wear multiple hats, so clarifying group and individual responsibilities across the entire team is important in keeping the project moving on an ongoing basis.

New Maryland, NB

Photograph of a water tower with the village name, New Maryland, on it.
Image source: Courtesy of the Village of New Maryland

The Village of New Maryland, NB (population 4,174), received a MAMP grant in 2018 to perform an asset management gap assessment, craft an asset management policy and develop an implementation plan. The gap assessment identified a series of short, medium, and long-term actions the Village could take in order to make steady progress on its unique asset management journey.

In a workshop, employees set the Village’s current and desired future state of asset management programming. They used that to prioritize next steps, draft a formal Asset Management Plan and set a baseline to measure progress. Here are some of the short-term actions the gap assessment identified:

  1. Develop a long-term asset management plan (25-year+ horizon)
  2. Have an asset management champion and clear decision maker
  3. Develop a stakeholder consultation and communication plan
  4. Develop level-of-service measures and triple-bottom-line targets

The Village built momentum during its grant project, largely as a result of identifying an asset management champion on its team. Next on its to-do list? Community consultation. The Village recognizes its importance and wants to incorporate consultation on service levels and costs into its long-term planning.

Bonfield, ON

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Image source: Courtesy of the Township of Bonfield.

The Township of Bonfield, ON (population 1,975), has encouraging insights. Using a grant provided by MAMP, it created an Asset Management Policy, had it endorsed by Council and built an Asset Management Maturity Assessment Report that identified competencies and gaps in its asset management program.

The Township believes that obtaining council endorsement is easiest when you start engaging Council at the beginning of the process. The team recommends establishing a steering committee in the early planning stages to get stakeholders and decision makers involved from the start. That helps generate buy-in at every stage in the process. Otherwise, when it is decision-making time, it can be tough to bring decision-makers onto the same page to understand the rationale behind recommendations. It’s much easier to involve them from the get go.

The Township is already seeing the benefits of this work spread throughout its organization.  It is currently developing reserve policies to finance its Asset Management Plan’s objectives related to core infrastructure.

Case studies
Learn how municipalities across Canada are reaping the benefits of integrating asset management into their policy and governance activities.
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How Lethbridge County doubled down on its asset management

Read this case study to learn how Lethbridge County moved from asset management theory to practice.

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How Brockton developed a sustainable infrastructure roadmap

Learn how the municipality of Brockton made exceptional gains in its asset management readiness. Read their approach, barriers and the benefits of their efforts.

Tools
Looking for help in developing your asset management policy and governance activities? Check out these resources.
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Guide: Getting started with asset management in your municipality

Download the guide now and see how this tool can help your municipality get started on building asset management practices.

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Guide: How to develop an asset management policy and strategy

Learn how to set up a sustainable asset management approach in your municipality. Hear from other communities that have successfully built asset management systems.

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Tool: Starting the asset management conversation in your municipality

Share our ready-to-use, customizable presentation with your municipal council to raise awareness of asset management and its value to your community. Download it today.

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Asset management guide: The Joy of Governing

Designed to meet the unique needs of northern communities, this guide created by the Association of Yukon Communities has been shared and adapted across Canada.

© 2020 Federation of Canadian Municipalities