Towns and cities across Canada face a constant struggle to maintain aging infrastructure, such as stormwater systems, roads, buildings and other municipal assets, while also building new services and systems to meet community needs. Add to that the pressure to adapt to — and prepare for — climate change, and the need to manage development in an environmentally responsible manner, and municipal councils have a lot on their plates.
Is your municipality facing challenges like these?
Asset management planning could be your solution to making better infrastructure investments. It's an innovative approach to managing physical assets in a way that is socially, environmentally and economically sustainable in the long term.
Creating an asset management plan can help your municipality address specific infrastructure needs while also preparing for climate change. It can help identify the infrastructure investments that make the most financial sense in the long run.
Prefer to have it in writing? Read the transcript of the asset management video.
Hi I'm Lisa, the Mayor of Mytown.
The role of my Council is to ensure that residents are provided with services that are essential to our quality of life, like clean drinking water and sanitation, transportation, parks and recreation services. Our community's infrastructure assets are critical to deliver these services.
Today, like in many Canadian communities, one third of Mytown's assets are in poor condition - in part because most of our assets were built in the 50s and 60s and are reaching the end of their useful life.
At the same time, our community has grown, and so has the demand for new and improved services. We've also had to spend money to upgrade our assets to comply with new environmental and safety standards.
We made investment decisions based on our ability to finance the upfront development costs. However, the bigger, ongoing costs to operate, maintain and eventually replace these assets were not fully built into the analysis.
Plus, our assets are vulnerable. Climate change has resulted in impacts from more severe storms, flooding, and other unexpected events. Our assets were not designed with these impacts in mind. For example, one of our roads was washed out during last spring's flood, and we had to reprioritize and redirect money in response.
Now we're caught in a cycle where:
- new infrastructure is needed to service growth that has been sprawling beyond the core
- residents count on us to deliver exceptional services
- we need to catch up on overdue maintenance of existing assets
- and to finance the replacement of our old ones
We strive to keep taxes and fees low, however, the revenue we collect to manage all this isn't keeping pace with it all.
So, my Council has been faced with some tough decisions.
- Do we adjust tax rates?
- Do we delay maintenance and repairs even longer and risk the consequences?
- How much should we place annually in a reserve fund?
- Do we reduce the level of services?
- Do we delay new projects?
So what are we doing?
We're engaging in asset management planning to be more strategic about how we manage our assets and spending. We're reviewing our assets across all departments in a holistic and integrated way. We're evaluating the full life cycle costs of different capital assets and land-use decisions to ensure we we're choosing the best long-term option for the community.
To become more resilient to a changing climate, we're developing a climate adaptation plan and starting to identify how we can become less dependent on fossil fuels. We now recognize the value of the services our natural assets provide, like managing stormwater and improving water quality. We're also speaking to residents about the cost of service delivery and their needs and priorities.
All this work is helping us to coordinate our infrastructure work, and set priorities. Now we have an ongoing process in place that is proactive, and allows us now to make better-informed and strategic decisions.
We're now much better placed to support Mytown's economy and our residents' quality of life sustainably. The health of our assets is central to achieving these goals.
Do some of Mytown's challenges seem familiar to you?
[Text on screen]
The Government of Canada endowed the Federation of Canadian Municipalities with $550 million to establish the Green Municipal Fund.
In collaboration with:
British Columbia Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
Canadian Network of Asset Managers