In 2007, the Municipality of Brockton, Ontario, initiated its work in asset management, knowing that it wanted to lay out clear asset management objectives and create an implementation plan. It hoped to bring multiple teams across the organization into alignment through common goals.
MAMP has provided 686 asset management grants in Ontario since its founding and provided training through MAMP-funded partners to more than 1,500 Ontarians.
- Council endorsed an Asset Management Policy
- A formalized asset management team is now in place
- Employees and Council are both more aware of the benefits of asset management planning
- Employees participated in multiple training and awareness-building opportunities
- Staff recommended infrastructure fees to offset future replacement and maintenance costs for key assets
- Employees and elected officials are making better long-range replacement decisions based on concrete information
This municipality has the third lowest taxable assessment within Bruce County, ON. Yet it has hundreds more kilometres of roadway and more than double the number of bridges and culverts of nearby areas. Like many other municipalities, its human resources are stretched thin and its municipal employees wear multiple work hats.
Like many other municipalities, Brockton began preparing to meet Ontario regulations for asset management in 2009. It updated its asset management plan in 2016. Its employees and Council also recognized the need to get a handle on the municipality’s long-term financial stability and ongoing infrastructure renewal.
Practically, the team needed some training and guidance from a consultant so it could chart a path forward, working together on the templates for gathering information.
Team members benefited significantly from training with the Municipal Asset Management Program’s (MAMP’s) partner organizations. They participated in opportunities including an event facilitated by the Association of Ontario Road Supervisors on “Asset Management for Small to Medium Sized Municipalities”, attending a webinar hosted by the Canadian Network of Asset Managers, taking the NAMS Professional Certificate in Asset Management Planning and attending asset management training offered by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE).
The team also built its in-house capacity by hiring an external consultant to guide it as it created a plan to accomplish the objectives in Level 2 of FCM’s Asset Management Readiness Scale (AMRS).
In particular, the team was interested in fulfilling objectives in the Policy & Governance competency, which requires that municipalities put asset management policies and objectives in place and start bringing them to life. It also focused on the Data & Information competency.
Brockton’s employees used a workbook to help frontline workers conduct consistent condition assessments of the Municipality's assets and record accurate data. The tool can be populated with identifiers and location data, physical properties data and financial data. The tool’s design links several departments’ interests, a key element of good asset management governance.
"This work really allowed our municipality to get a handle on managing our assets responsibly. It’s a relief to know where we stand and what we need to do next so we can provide our community with a continuous level of service."
–Trish Serratore, Chief Financial Officer, Municipality of Brockton
Despite the contextual barriers already mentioned (low taxation and high infrastructure needs), the team’s work was relatively barrier-free insofar as it had great support from Council.
Over the course of this multi-year initiative, leadership changes led to challenges in knowledge transfer for certain aspects of the project. However, with diligence and perseverance, everyone on the team had the knowledge base required to ensure data accuracy and keep the project schedule on track. The team worked steadily toward its goals.
Brockton’s successes in several areas contributed to its achieving Level 2 in the AMRS Policy & Governance competency:
- Policy and objectives: It completed an asset management policy, which was adopted as Asset Management By-Law: 2018 -075.
- Strategy and roadmap: It drafted An Asset Management Maturity Report.
It also took a meaningful step under the Data & Information competency by creating Condition Assessment Guidelines and a workbook to encourage consistent data collection.
Completing an asset management policy that has been endorsed by Council means there’s concrete direction available to the team. The employees and Council now understand the usefulness of the policy and it serves as a reference point, not a dust collector.
Caption: Ariel view of the Municipality of Brockton.
- The focus on Policy & Governance helped the team clarify its next steps in asset management and plan a path forward.
- With new tools and data, the team is establishing a comprehensive overview of the city’s assets. Employees and elected officials are already making better long-range replacement decisions based on concrete information. For example, in recent budget discussions, employees recommended a new hydrant fee to offset operational costs for hydrants (condition assessments, future capital upgrades, etc.).
- There’s a more formalized asset management team now in place to provide regular updates.
- Employees and Council understand the importance of maintaining comprehensive records so they can avoid short-term reactions and embrace more stable, long-term planning.
What they learned
Develop a team: It’s essential to have employees with different skill sets and perspectives involved from the beginning of your asset management process. Create a cross-functional asset management planning team—they’ll have key knowledge you might not initially realize is important.
Get buy-in from everyone: Creating the team is the first step, but it’s essential that you create a policy that can be followed by everyone who will need to help implement it. Getting buy-in, even at the policy stage, is crucial, so you know that it’s realistic and can be carried forward.
Start early: It takes time to complete the requirements at each level of the AMRS well. Bringing an entire city’s asset data up to date means staying on top of the ongoing process, so the sooner you start, the better. One of the best ways to get things moving is creating a policy that moves an asset management agenda forward. Later on, you can set up a database that simplifies tracking your information so you can see what’s out of date and address it.
Take time, don't rush: Moving too quickly can lead to results that are incomplete, insufficient or incorrect. Your source data must be correct and analyzed to ensure that it’s accurate. If there are errors, employees, Council and the public won’t trust the new system you’ve built. It’s better to establish a diverse team early on and work slowly, together, to develop something strong and reliable.
In terms of asset management, Brockton’s Council has now completed its road and infrastructure condition assessment as well as the camera survey of the city’s sewers.
Its next steps will include a deeper look at facility assessments, which it began in 2019 by looking at its arena and school. The team is looking to complete more detailed needs assessments and condition assessments for a daycare, library and several community centres.
In terms of its Policy & Governance focus, Brockton plans to add measurement and monitoring to its asset management work. That’s part of achieving Level 3 on the AMRS.
The team is moving steadily through the scale and is already seeing the positive results of its new approach.
For infrastructure inquires, contact Jessica Rodgers
GIS Technician, Municipality of Brockton
For financial information and planning, contact Trish Serratore
Chief Financial Officer, Municipality of Brockton
- Municipality of Brockton’s Asset Management Policy and Asset Management Plan
- NAMS Canada Professional Certificate in Asset Management Planning