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Peer learning: Helping municipalities become sustainable

Banner with “Annual Report 2016–2017” on green background at the top. In a triangular shape on the left side: smiling man and woman writing on a whiteboard. Title of page: Peer learning.

Illustration showing two circles with three people in each (bottom left and right), connected to a light bulb above both.

FCM harnesses the power of shared experiences to leverage peer learning

Through the Green Municipal Fund (GMF), FCM develops and delivers programs that enable municipalities to learn from one another, improving their decision-making and increasing their capacity to design and implement successful sustainability projects. During 2016–2017, FCM significantly expanded its offering of peer-learning programs.

Peer-learning programs empower municipalities to plan, implement and measure sustainability initiatives

Peer learning for municipalities

In the education sector, it’s known as peer-learning or peer-to-peer learning: learners work together in small groups, sharing their experiences with, and understandings of, the challenges they have in common.

In 2015, FCM introduced this model to the municipal sector with the Leadership in Brownfield Renewal (LiBRe) and Leadership in Asset Management (LAMP) programs. Both earned rave reviews from participants, generated valuable lessons that FCM shares with non-participating municipalities, and grew significantly during 2016–2017.

Education research indicates that peer learning produces a better understanding of subject matter. Compared with passive activities, such as reading and listening to lectures, active collaboration involves cognitive processes that embed knowledge more deeply in long-term memory and that support creative problem solving.

LAMP and LiBRe enable municipal officials and staff to expand their professional networks and build the capacity of municipalities to successfully plan, implement and measure the impacts of sustainability projects.

Headshot of Lynsey Swanson, a LAMP member from the City of Melville, SK. Credit: Lynsey Swanson.

“It is surprising yet humbling to learn that all municipalities, regardless of size, face similar issues, and that there are ways to manage these issues that can be applied effectively by any municipality.”

LAMP member Lynsey Swanson, CA
City of Melville, SK

Headshot of Andrew Schell, a LiBRe member and the Director of Environmental Services of the City of Orillia, ON. Credit: Andrew Schell, Director of Environmental Services, City of Orillia, ON.

“The LiBRe program is an exceptional network. With the wealth of knowledge of many of the municipal practitioners and FCM's very knowledgeable, receptive and helpful staff, I would highly recommend any municipality beginning to develop a program to become a LiBRe member.”

LiBRe member Andrew Schell Director of Environmental Services City of Orillia, ON




LiBRe’s influence continues to grow

  • 2016 Brownie Award trophy, from the Canadian Brownfields Network for Leadership in Brownfields Renewal. Credit: Canadian Brownfields Network.
  • The members of the Leadership in Brownfield Renewal (LiBRe) program in Brantford, ON, in June 2017. Credit: FCM
  • People standing in the middle of an old factory.

Brownfields — former industrial or commercial sites with real or perceived contamination — represent a formidable challenge for many municipalities. To help meet this challenge, FCM ran a two-year pilot project that enabled municipal participants to deepen their brownfield knowledge, expand their professional networks and complete a number of brownfield initiatives.

In 2015, FCM built on this success with LiBRe, a peer-learning program based on a best-practices framework that enables participants to collaboratively acquire expertise in the renewal of brownfield sites.

LiBRe members engage in online learning activities with other members and with brownfield experts, and progress through a guided, collaborative learning process.

The initial cohort included eight municipalities; during 2016–2017, LiBRe grew to more than 30 participating municipalities. FCM tracks their progress, gathers the materials they develop and shares this intelligence with other municipalities in the form of guidebooks, case studies and webinars.

In 2016, the Canadian Brownfields Network awarded LiBRe a Brownie award in the Communications, Marketing & Public Engagement category.

Lighting the LAMP on municipal infrastructure

  • Group shot of the Leadership in Asset Management Program participants. Credit: CH2M/Opus.

During 2015–2016, FCM added a second cohort of five francophone municipalities to LAMP.

LAMP helps municipalities meet one of their biggest challenges: dealing with aging and inadequate infrastructure. Assets such as roads, pipes, and sanitation and recreational facilities are essential to the delivery of municipal services, yet many are past or near the end of their life cycles.

Through LAMP, municipalities learn to better integrate sustainability goals into decision-making about infrastructure assets and services. The goal is to ensure that municipalities provide the best environmental, economic and social value for communities over the long term.

FCM shares the wealth of valuable resources produced through LAMP with municipalities across Canada. FCM has also produced a video, available online, to explain asset management. The video has attracted more than 2,000 views and has often been featured in workshops delivered by other organizations.

“Asset management is the coordinated activities of an organization to realize value from its assets in the achievement of its organizational objectives.”

Canadian Network of Asset Managers

Page Updated: 08/09/2017