The village provides core infrastructure services such as water, sewer, roads and fire protection. The nature of the services leads the village to be asset heavy. The total current replacement cost of our assets is displayed below and includes all assets in service. Our reserve policy is relation to our asset base is very important. The village retains reserves of $4.5 million and sets aside $550,000 annually which is about 60% of sustainable funding estimate. The sustainable estimates are being constantly refined as we get more and better data about renewal costs into the system. The goal is to be completely sustainable and reach 100% funding level, while at the same time realizing that senior levels of government often help finance some of our capital assets with grants and incentives.
Asset management is a comprehensive process to ensure services are delivered from the infrastructure in a financially sustainable manner. The council has committed to comprehensive asset management planning as a strategic priority guided by the BC Framework for Asset Management.
The 2017 Community Surveys and consultation conducted as part of the OCP development emphasised infrastructure priorities including water, sewer and roads among the highest priorities for the community. The asset management plan addresses these priorities. Underpinning the asset management plan is sound fiscal management which is addressed in the long-term financial plan section. In the 2019 staff & council moved to integrate the annual budgeting process with the asset management planning with specific reference to funding reserves for water, sewer, roads and other infrastructure in the municipality.
The BC Framework defines asset management is an
Integrated process, bringing together skills, expertise, and activities of People; with Information about a community’s physical Assets; and Finances; so that informed decisions can be made, supporting Sustainable Service Delivery.
The purpose of this report is to consider current and future needs, manage risk and makes best use of resources to sustain community infrastructure for the long-term.
The citizens of our communities, its residents and businesses expect us to be good stewards of the infrastructure that deliver essential services they rely on every day. It enables delivery of services today and prepares responsibly for the future. Senior levels of government are cognizant of this and have mandated asset management as a core process in order to qualify for grant funding. Some provinces such as Ontario have gone as far as legislating asset management and mandating reports and procedures for municipalities. In British Columbia, most grant funding is contingent on demonstrating progress in asset management.
Assets are the full range of infrastructure owned by the local government to enable service delivery. Assets include, but are not limited to, water and wastewater systems, drainage and flood protection systems, transportation systems, civic facilities, parks, and fleet. Assets also include natural resources and the essential ecological functions nature provides.
What does it cost?
The replacement value of our assets in current dollars is about $53 million. Most of our operating budget revolves around the operations and maintenance of our assets to provide services including the labour necessary to carry on operations. The operating budget in 2019 is $4.4 million. This is set on an annual basis during the budgeting process and ensures that operating and maintenance costs are fully funded. The capital budget on the other hand, deals with replacing or renewal and construction of new assets. Like most small municipalities with a relatively small tax base, we are reliant on senior levels of government to provide a portion of the costs of replacing capital assets though grants. As we are unable to fully fund asset replacements via internal resources, the detailed capital plan takes these grants into account in forecasting replacement and renewal of our asset base.
Proactively resolving the funding shortfall
Resolving the funding shortfall involves several steps:
- Improving asset knowledge so that data accurately records the asset inventory, how assets are performing and when assets are not able to provide the required service levels.
- Improving our efficiency in operating, maintaining, renewing and replacing existing assets to optimize life cycle costs.
- Identifying and managing risks associated with providing services from infrastructure.
- Making trade‐offs between service levels and costs to ensure that the community receives the best return from infrastructure.
- Consulting with the community to ensure that the costs of infrastructure meet the community needs and are affordable.
- Developing partnership with other bodies, where available to provide services.
- Seeking additional funding from governments and other bodies to better reflect a funding approach to infrastructure services that includes every level of government.
- Analyzing and accurately measuring the sustainable capital funding and increasing revenue sources to close the gap to sustainable levels.
Asset management gained importance throughout Canada and around the world as governments realized that their infrastructure, a majority of which had been built in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s had aged and was in need of replacement. There was a recognition that municipalities carrying a vast majority of infrastructure assets on their books did not have comprehensive policy or plans to deal with replacing this aging infrastructure. Their ability to continue to provide the same level of services was therefore questionable. As a result, asset management became a central focus of all levels of government and was legislated in some provinces or became a requirement to obtain grant funding in others. In British Columbia, Asset Management BC was formed and produced a high level framework to guide asset management across the province. Thereafter, most grant funding became contingent on having an asset management plan.
This document conforms the BC framework and is an overarching document that covers all asset classes in the municipality. It is further extended by other supplementary documents such as the Water Master Plan. The purpose is to consider current and future needs, manage risk and make best use of resources to sustain community infrastructure for the long-term. This demonstrates responsible management of assets, complies with funding requirements and communicates required levels of service.
The asset management plan is read in conjunction with the Asset Management Policy and Asset Management Strategy. The following documents guide, influence or supplement the asset management plan:
- Official Community Plan (OCP)
- 5 Year Financial Plan
- Water Master Plan
- Risk Management Plan (in progress)
- Geospatial Strategy (in progress)
Key stakeholders in the preparation and implementation of the asset management plan are as follows:
- To act as custodians for the community’s assets.
- To set levels of service, risk and cost standards.
- To approve the Asset Management Plan and align with the Corporate Strategic Plan.
- To approve the asset management program.
- To ensure appropriate resources and funding are made available to support the asset management program.
- Chief Administrative Officer
- To provide strategic advice and leadership in the management of infrastructure assets.
- Ensure outcomes support the Strategic Plan
- To ensure the community and key stakeholder inputs are integrated into the asset management plans
- Chief Financial Officer
- Establish current levels of service for assets
- To draft asset management plans
- To implement the asset management program
- Implement asset management system including reporting to stakeholders
- Public Works Foreman/Director
- To implement maintenance and capital works program in accordance with asset management plans and strategy.
- Upkeep, operation and repairs of assets
- Inspections of assets
- Conformance to operating standards
- Co-ordinate recording and upkeep of asset data in the field
The municipality’s organizational structure for service delivery for infrastructure assets is shown below:
Goals & Objectives of Asset Management Plan
The goals is to manage infrastructure assets to continue to meet the levels of service expected by the community in a sustainable manner. This requires being cost-effective and anticipating future needs in planning and implementation. The key elements of the plan are:
- Defining levels of service and monitoring performance against them
- Managing impact of growth and increasing legislative requirements through demand management and infrastructure investment
- Taking a life cycle approach to asset management
- Identifying, assessing and appropriately controlling risk
- Having a long-term financial plan (capital plan), which identified expenditures and source of funding.
Key outcome of this process is to be able to anticipate capital needs and fund services sustainably thereby avoiding abrupt painful tax increases.
Plan Framework – The BC Framework
The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) prepared the Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework, which establishes a high-level, systematic approach that supports local governments in moving toward service, asset and financial sustainability through an asset management process. The framework addresses:
1. Why asset management is necessary.
2. What asset management is.
3. How asset management can be implemented.
The Framework is based on Figure 1. It recognizes there are many components to asset management and provides a continuous pathway to link all components of the process together. The circular nature emphasizes that, like any fundamental endeavor, the process is on-going and requires continuous review and improvement.
This process is founded on improvements that are incremental and scalable. It involves assessing capacity, planning actions and implementing the plans.
Key elements of the plan are:
- Assess: This stage involves determining the organizational capacity and maturity in four core elements- People, Assets, Information and Finances. This involves assessing practices and state of assets and data and information quality. It also includes an assessment of current asset management practices.
- Plan: This stage is focused on creating the documents that tie together the communities approach to asset management. At the minimum these documents are Asset Management Policy, Asset Management Strategy and Asset Management Plan. Integral to the Asset Management Plan is defining
- Current Levels of Service (LoS) – this is a measure of standard of service provided to the community, which then determines the amount to investment required to fund services at that level.
- Future demand – how this will impact on future service delivery and how this is to be met.
- Life cycle management – managing assets through their life cycle from purchase & installation, operations and repairs to disposal while providing defined levels of service from that asset.
- Capital Asset Plan/Long-Term Financial Plan – what funds are required to provide the defined services and what funding is available
- Implement: Asset management practices establish and implement ways that integrate people, organizational culture and capacity. These practices are guided by the strategy & plans.
- Measure & Report – how the plan will be monitored to ensure it is meeting the organization’s objectives and measured through the lens of Sustainable Service Delivery
- Communicating results and progress to stakeholders
Asset Management Assessment
The Village Assets
Ashcroft is responsible for maintain a wide variety of infrastructure assets, which are grouped into a hierarchy comprising Service >Physical Asset Group> Asset Type.
For example our old Fire Hall is organized in this manner: Protection>Buildings>Fire Station>Old Fire Hall. In addition, each asset is mapped and then further broken down into its components. Continuing the example the old fire hall is broken into roof, envelop, HVAC etc. The replacement cost excluding land is as follows:
- Service refers to the type of service the asset helps provide and includes
- Administration, Potable Water, Protection, Potable water, Public Works, Storm water, Waste water, Transport, Recreation&Culture
- Physical Asset Group refers to the broad grouping of asset and includes:
- Wastewater, Parks, Cemetery, Land, Potable Water, Equipment, Roads, Public Art, Buildings, Fleet, Structures, Trails, Storm water
- Asset Type is breaks down the asset group into more detailed physical type of asset.
The big advantage a small municipality such as Ashcroft has as compared to its larger counterparts that we have no large departments and resulting silos to contend with. We work as a strong team and readily share information across responsibilities. The disadvantage is that we are all quite busy with our day to day jobs whereas a larger municipality would have additional resources to call upon. In this environment, it is critical that the CFO champion asset management and devote additional time to move it forward. The CFO has risen to the challenge and put in tremendous amount of effort and time to developing an open source system for the municipality. Over the last couple of years, staff and council have had multiple presentations and projects in assets management. This has resulted in staff and elected officials being aware of the importance of asset management to sustainable service delivery. The council champions asset management as a core business function. They are aware how critical the work is to securing funding for projects from provincial and federal levels of government.
Information & Data Overview
The village had made substantial progress in Asset Management by embracing the BC framework early in its development. We have worked consistently since beginning of 2017 to advance the state of asset management. The data previously stored in multiple locations: spreadsheets, Tangible Capital Asset (TCA) reports, GIS (Geographic Information Systems), AutoCAD and hardcopy drawings was consolidated to an in-house GIS-centric platform. This platform is based on open source and allowed the municipality to avoid significant costs.
Each asset and component islisted and populated with expected useful life information. Any available accounting data from PSAB 3150 – Tangible Capital Assets inventory was utilized and incorporated. While installation dates taken from the accounting system are an indicator for the remaining useful life of assets, a better indicator of the useful life of the assets is the condition. Many of our assets are working well beyond their engineered useful life and are still in fair condition. Condition estimates are recorded where feasible such as when there are repairs, providing the village better information. As an example of action taken in 2018 to improve the value of information was a visual inspection of the roads to populate expected remaining life.
The graph below displays the accumulated real depreciation as compared to the current replacement value. As can be seen below most assets are aging and nearing their fully depreciated values. Despite that, our condition inspections put them at fair condition with useful lives being revised higher as a result.
Life Cycle Management
Life cycle management details how the organization plans to manage and operate assets at agreed levels of service while minimizing life cycle costs. The report below list the annual operating and maintenance/renewal costs which when added over the useful life of the asset to the initial costs less dispositions total the full life cycle cost of the asset.
The following are areas where Ashcroft is lacking information, or where accuracy of information may be improved:
- Attribute Information:
- Water, sanitary, and storm datasets are lacking in attribute information in some areas. Some diameter and material information may also be incorrect. Improving that information can be accommodated through data collection during regular maintenance activities and repairs as well as through specific condition assessments. It is not recommended that specific initiatives just to improve that information be completed in isolation.
- Spatial Accuracy:
- The spatial accuracy of some of the storm drains as well as manholes could be improved.
- Expected Useful Lives: The village is fortunate that many of our assets in particular water mains and sewer mains are functioning well beyond their useful lives. This is in part to good maintenance as well as environmental factors. The challenge then lies in updating useful lives to a more realistic figure so that accuracy of renewal estimates can be enhanced.
Recommendation arising from Information Assessment
Described below are some steps that the Village could take to ensure the spatial data is accurate, reliable, and accessible to support asset management decision-making.
- Continue to support the strategy of using a centralized GIS database that contains all spatial datasets. This database would become the hub to feed all other applications (web-mapping, desktop mapping, mobile data access, asset management). It is also the place where any data updates would be made.
- As best as possible, fill in missing data attributes, and confirm material or diameter information. If some areas have a high degree of location uncertainty, have the utility information surveyed.
- Determine a consistent, repeatable procedure for updating infrastructure datasets as infrastructure is built, altered or information if confirmed. It should be done at the level of the centralized GIS database to ensure that changes are propagated out to other applications.
- Determine a user-friendly web-mapping solution that allows information to be shared across departments, both in-office and in the field. Ideally this would allow non-technical users access to data without having to engage a technician for every request. As well, it would facilitate data to be updated by staff in the field.
- Update on a rolling 5 year basis, during the budget cycle the accuracy of maturing assets and revise their useful lives as necessary.
The Village considered a number of asset management and mapping platforms but has a preference to employ low cost solutions. Since digital aptitude of Village staff justifies a more complex system it is recommended that a mapping solution strategy (Geospatial Strategy) be implemented, based on what open source tools are relevant and current.
Best Practices of data management
The best practice of data management mirror the continuous nature of the BC framework and include:
- Collecting all available information
- Creating a central GIS data repository
- Setting up a tool that allows the right people to access the right data at the right times
- Implementing a procedure for adding new information to the data
In undertaking these steps, the Village is well positioned in moving forward to have a robust asset management data repository.
Asset SMART 2.0 – Assessing Asset Management Practices
The village undertook an assessment of its asset management practices using AssetSMART 2.0. It is a tool that local governments can use to assess their capacity to manage their assets.
This tool has been designed to help local governments:
- Evaluate their asset management practices in a comprehensive way
- Identify particular areas of strength and areas for improvement
- Establish priorities
- Build awareness of the many dimensions of asset management
- Generate productive discussion across departments
- Measure progress over time
- Benchmark against other communities
- Set short-, mid-, and long-term objectives in specific areas
This assessment conducted on a periodic basis establishes a baseline and documents improvements in different elements. The assessment tool has been integrated into the AM system and tracks all assessments conducted over time. Figure below depicts Ashcroft’s assessment in mid-2018 before the design and implementation of the AM system
The challenge is that the Village has a growing capital and infrastructure replacement obligation in the long-term, and also has other assets for which modest investment has been made to date, in particular for roads. Many of the existing assets were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s with significant funding support from senior levels of government. These assets will be approaching the end of their useful life and renewal investment is required in order to maintain service to the community and protect the next generation.
Actions to address infrastructure renewal & sustainability
The village has embarked on a number of initiatives to address these infrastructure challenges.
The Village has made strides in establishing water and sanitary rate increases to help move towards financial sustainability. These increases, following after no change in rates for about 10 years were necessary to make utilities self-sufficient rather than being subsidised by property taxes. This was also a condition for obtaining the $5.8 million water treatment grant and was agreed to by the council.
The village also sets aside 17.85% of general tax revenue for capital reserves every year. Additionally, reserves for equipment, fire and transit are also set aside each year depending on operational constraints.
There is a gap between current spending levels and what is required over the long term to fund infrastructure reinvestment, particularly as regards to road infrastructure. For the first time starting in 2019, a roads reserve is being created with a $50,000 transfer to initiate the reserve. The cash flow modeling outlines how gradual increases in revenue will allow the Village to address the capital needs that are outlined for the coming years. This funding gap should be addressed as continual under-funding will result in the service level reductions, increased risk of failures and the Village having to respond to more crisis situations in the future.
Follow an Asset Management Policy
An asset management policy provides the direction from Council that underpins the asset management strategy, objectives and actions. A clearly defined and documented policy supports executing practices efficiently and consistently. Developing and following a suitable policy is a recommendation within the Provincial Asset Management Framework.
An Asset Management Policy is in place but a review of the policy is in progress. A new council and a new OCP has necessitated a review of the community’s priorities and objectives with greater focus on environmental sustainability and recognition of natural assets that provide value to the community.
Follow an Asset Management Strategy
The asset management strategy articulates a broad framework that guides this document in planning, construction, maintenance and operations to achieve sustainable service delivery for the municipality. It is a set of actions that will enable the assets to provide a desired level of service in a sustainable way, while managing risk at the lowest lifecycle cost.
Levels of Service
As part of the OCP extensive community consultation was conducted to determine community priorities. The feedback received ranked the core services offered by the municipality – water, sewer and fire services as the highest priority for the citizens. This reinforces the emphasis on managing core municipal assets proactively and reaching sustainable funding targets.
The village is governed by the community charter and local government act. We are required to meet a number of legislative requirement including Canadian Federal and Provincial legislation and regulation. These include:
Level of Service
Community levels of service are best described as community outcome that is a measure of service quality relating to facets such as reliability, responsiveness, customer service, sustainability, health & safety, accessibility and affordability. The actual level of service is determined by the community priorities expanded by the strategic goals of council and in conjunction with legislation. For example the level of service for potable water is set at a high level driven by the importance of clean water to the community and by Canada Drinking Water standards.
Technical Levels of Service are a further level of detail that are operational in nature. They provide technical measures of operational activities and relate back to the annual budgets.
The village is tracking composite Level of Service (LoS) ratings for all assets, determined broadly by community priorities and standards. Furthermore, Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) provide additional targets and performance metrics that are tracked by the village. The challenge is to measure performance appropriately without making it too burdensome and costly for a small municipality to manage. Please refer to Appendix 1 for details.
Drivers affecting demand include population change, changes in demographics, climate changes and social pressures, etc.
After years of slow population decline, increasing activity at the Inland Terminal is set to increase our population. This has impacted design and construction of our infrastructure including the Water Treatment Plant and upgrades to the Sewer Treatment Plant. The table below describes the impact on service.
Condition Inspection Framework
Capital investment needs are identified and prioritized based on technical assessments of the infrastructure’s condition. That does however result in staff or specialist time to complete the inspections and results in a significant amount of data to manage. Coordinating the data collection as part of other maintenance activities can help to streamline some of this work.
The Village must consider how to best manage the information that will result from the condition assessments. By planning at the outset, the Village is better prepared to manage the information to help monitor the changes in infrastructure condition over time.
Adopting and delivering condition and performance assessments warrants consistency of approach and having accessible, centrally located information. To enable this the village has embarked on the development of its own database that allows us to create online inspection forms with results immediately stored in a centralized database. Furthermore, the focus on translating more of the information into a digital form, and storing new information in digital form as it becomes available, is a worthwhile approach. The information gathering is an ongoing exercise and the Village is continuing to improve the quality of information.
It is recommended the Village continue to invest in including information about the Village’s infrastructure in the GIS. While managing assets such as vehicles, equipment and specific building components does not rely on the GIS, asset such as roads, piping, hydrants and other such items can leverage GIS data and mapping abilities.
It is essential that the information is linked to the unique identifiers associated with each asset in the GIS so that activities such as the following can be accomplished:
- Providing a visual summary of results, rather than relying only on tabular data
- Having the ability to measure units such as length when creating budget estimates for maintenance or capital replacement activities
- Presenting results and necessary infrastructure improvements to field staff that will complete the rehabilitation or replacement activities
The approach to the risk assessment of the Village’s assets can be divided into four parts:
- an assessment of the likelihood of failure
- an assessment of the consequence of failure
- a risk score
- prioritization of projects based on risk score rankings
A risk score ranging from 1 to 5 is assigned to each asset (5 indicating a high likelihood/consequence of failure and 1 indicating a low likelihood/consequence of failure).
Likelihood of Failure
The likelihood of failure is primarily based on the condition of the asset. The expected life and current age comparison can yield estimate of condition. The actual condition of the asset may differ due to the particular circumstances and estimates are best supplemented by empirical data and observation whenever possible. Case in point is the condition of our water mains. The AC water mains although having reached their useful lives are still in fair condition as evidenced by a lack of leaks and observations when we have been able to dig and examine the pipes. The likelihood of failure definitions are categorized as outlined below:
Consequence of Failure
The consequence of failure was determined by estimating impact in three areas Social/Health, Environment and Service Delivery. Refer to table below
Risk Score Matrix
The combined risk score incorporates the likelihood of asset failure score and the consequence of failure score into a single 1 to 5 rating (1 being the least risk and 5 being the most risk). Figure 1 correlates the consequence and the likelihood of failure to the combined risk score.
Result of Assessment
Risk Coded Service groupings
The risk assessment and coding to each asset yields a risk coded grouping by Village Physical Asset Grouping as shown below. The Potable water and Storm water structures are the most heavily risk weighted.
The ability to drill down in the report allows us to further analyse structures and shows the following structures need the highest priority in renewal/replacement planning.
- Water Reservoir
- Wastewater Lift Station
- Water Pump Station
Risk Coded GIS Maps
We’ve implemented a sophisticated GIS system utilizing QGIS an open source system. We are able to pull up colour coded risk maps as needed. An illustration below provides a colour coding risk assessment for water mains. This feeds into the prioritization of the projects in the Capital Plan.
Capital Planning & Cash Flow Analysis
The Capital Plan provides a forecast of the expenditures required for water, wastewater, drainage and roadway infrastructure to maintain adequate and sustainable levels of service. This project facilitated developing a base of information by taking stock of what infrastructure information is available and being used by the Village, and initiated discussions regarding short and long-term infrastructure and financing needs. It also involved identifying specific capital works to be completed in the short-term and setting priorities to help the Village develop a meaningful 10 Year Capital Plan. This can then be extended to 20 years while keeping in mind that estimates beyond 10 years are more uncertain.
Capital Planning Process
The Village is aware of the following circumstances related to their current capital spending:
- The amount of capital works investment is less than what is needed over the long-term
- The portion of the general revenue fund used for roadway capital reinvestment is insufficient and costs increase rapidly as the roads continue to deteriorate
- The Village’s reserves are not growing enough to keep up with reinvestment
- The Village needs a financial strategy that meets the long-term needs of capital rehabilitation, and capital improvements and expansions.
The funding gap cannot be closed in the short term. It is not practical to assume that capital funding will attain sustainable levels in the near term. The Village has however made the following progress:
- Increasing awareness of funding needs
- Increasing water and sanitary utility rates in recent years to help close the gap
- Increasing funding to reserves, in particular initiating a roads reserve starting in 2019.
- Developing a more integrated approach to capital planning.
A list of capital projects was developed using previous investigations and plans. The project list evolved as priorities were better defined. The projects were presented to council for input and direction. This has evolved into a process where each year’s budget priorities are incorporated into the long-term plan. This long-term plan is presented as part of the budget discussion to enable council to be aware of the short, medium and long term implications. A 5 year capital review process was also initiated that targets renewals after individually examining each maturing asset’s condition. If an asset is in good condition the useful life is revised accordingly. If instead, the asset is confirmed to be deteriorated, the village looks for funding to renew/replace the asset.
Long-term financial planning involves aligning financial capacity with the community vision and long-term service objectives. Long Term Financial Planning is also designed to encourage progress toward the organization’s long-term financial goal of sustainability. This is achieved through a set of financial foundation principles and an effective linkage to the community vision.
Funding for infrastructure renewal primarily comes from local property taxation, frontage charges and utility charges. 17.65% of General Taxes are allocated to capital reserves on an annual basis to gather funds for capital renewals. In addition, explicit reserves have been created for equipment, roads and transit to help bridge the funding gap. An innovative scorecard was developed that calculates the sustainability score based on current real depreciation.
Cash Flow Analysis
The Excel Model has aslo been developed that incorporates the planned capital replacements and also annual funding and current reserve balances. It is linked into the Business Intelligence framework and allows for integrated monitoring of cash flows and debt levels. Council is able to access these reports through an online interface which makes exercising their stewardship responsibilities easier with visual, interactive information available with relative ease.
Key Capital Projects
Much of the village infrastructure is below ground and not easily examined. There exist some unknowns regarding the remaining life of the water mains as it is not a simple process to assess remaining life. Non-destructive testing or completing excavations to do pipe testing would require additional resources. However, the Village has noted that few leaks have occurred in recent years. Monitoring pipe breaks is an important step and, once more leaks are identified it would be worth planning for pipe replacements. The Capital Plan outlines some known capital upgrades. It also includes longer term allowances reflecting the expected average annual investment for piping to highlight that the Village should start budgeting for the known anticipated major investment of replacing water mains as they age.
Constructing the second cell of the North Ashcroft (Zone 3) Reservoir was an identified need in the Village’s November 2015 Water Master Plan, prepared by Urban Systems Ltd. The Capital Plan includes an allowance for grant funding as it is acknowledged this project is a high priority for the community and thus is a key candidate for an application for a grant. At current funding levels and with the proposed timing of the new reservoir cell, capital cost will put strain on the water utility’s financial resources at a time when the Village is attempting to achieve financial sustainability. If this project is not successful in receiving a grant then the Village will need to consider affordability and the need to possibly delay the project until such time that the funding approach provides sufficient money to pay the full cost of the work without draining reserves.
Beyond a few known spots and routine replacement of mechanical equipment, the wastewater collection system appears to be in reasonable shape and is not causing any major issues. This can be confirmed with a camera inspection program. The camera inspection can give a better idea of the actual condition of the sewers and what may be expected moving forward. Unfortunately, due to the cost of the camera assessment, the village has decided that funds are better allocated to actual repairs or reserves rather than the camera inspection. As a proxy, repairs will be tracked more closely to better ascertain the condition of the pipes. Additionally, data will be gathered during the annul sewer flushing program. The Capital Plan outlines some known capital upgrades but includes longer term allowances reflecting the expected average annual investment for piping to highlight that the Village should start budgeting for the anticipated major investment of replacing components as they age.
A concern with the wastewater system is the known risks associated with Lift Station 1. This facility conveys all of the service area’s sewage from the north side of the Thompson River towards the treatment plant. This station is aged, does not meet current WorkSafe BC standards and is in a difficult location for replacement work. Should a major spill occur there is risk of raw sewage entering the Thompson River. The Capital Plan includes an allowance for grant funding as it is acknowledged this project is a high priority for the community. In 2019, the village has put forth a application for a grant to fully fund this project. At current funding levels and with the proposed timing of the new lift station, capital cost will exceed the sanitary utility’s financial resources. If this project is not successful in receiving a grant than the Village will need to consider affordability and the need to possibly delay the project until such time that the funding approach provides sufficient money to pay the full cost of the work.
Investments in roads represents a significant outlay of funds in the coming years if the service levels are to remain at current or better standards. The following are key road-related aspects:
- Many paved roads are “tired” but the base structure is holding up in many areas
- Crack sealing and patching would be a wise investment, so the Capital Plan includes specific allowances for that work
- Some roads deserve more investment (repaving or reconstruction)
- Major investments in roads should be prioritized based on road use, with high volume roads being addressed prior to some lower volume roads
- There are some instances where investing in local roads will also be a priority due to deteriorating condition
LT Financial Plan
Planning is integrated into the annual budget process and is conducted on annual cycle. We start with the capital assets replacement schedule, with emphasis on assets in backlog and maturities in the next 5 and 10 years.
We then try to assess the actual condition and need for replacement. This then feeds into the excel model which incorporates council priorities and new projects as part of the budgeting process. Finally it is imported back into the BI framework allowing as to conduct sophisticated modelling such as the the cash model presented earlier. A snapshot of the long-term financial plan is shown in the Appendix.
Implementing Asset Management Practices
The asset management programs identified and costed and the practices developed need to be implemented to meet asset management objectives. While the development of this plan is important the implementation of the plans and ongoing practices is where the value is derived. The implementation of these practices deals with some or all of the core elements: people, assets, information and finances. The AssetSmart Radar graph on page 16, tracks our progress on implementation and is shared with higher levels of government.
Measure & Report
A communications plan is intended to provide a framework for a communication of messages related to a project or program, which includes identifying strategies and tools for achieving effective communications. It also determines how best to inform, engage, and involve people. A good communications plan sets out strategies for how to stimulate interest and attract attention among all interested people. It helps the organizer to consider how they want stakeholders and the public to be involved and how to engage them.
Asset management is different than a specific project and many other initiatives. Asset management is an ongoing practice of analysis, decision-making and investments over an indefinite timeline. There is no “end” to an asset management program. It requires the commitment of Council and staff, as well as the public in order to be sustained over the long-term. Further, communicating the Village’s progress to senior government agencies is also critical to ensure their support over the long-term and to make the Village an attractive municipality in which to invest finite funding. To achieve this, a communications plan has been developed – the framework of which is summarized below.
The objective of the communications plan is to help various stakeholders to understand and be able to communicate the importance of investment in the Village’s infrastructure. The objectives of the communications initiatives are to:
- Increase awareness and support among the public for the value and importance of well-functioning infrastructure
- Inspire confidence among the public and senior government that the Village is effectively managing the community’s infrastructure
- Explain what investment and stewardship actions will be taken now to plan for the future
Key stakeholders that will be affected by, and have a stake in, the sustainable investment in infrastructure include:
- Village Council and staff
- Senior government
- Local Media
Determining the stakeholders and key audiences is critical to the success of a communications exercise. Determining the key audiences that need to be reached by the chosen form of communication will help to develop specific, targeted messages that will address their concerns or interest, and ensure that the process is tailored to ways to best obtain input or involve them. Stakeholders are identified below, along with identification of how they are or could be affected by the project and how the project team intends to involve them.
Village Council and Staff – Owners of the Plan and the Implementers
Council and staff are the advocates and spokespeople for the program as they will have direct contact with the public and senior government representatives. For that reason, staff must:
- Have a solid understanding of the technical approach, details and financial implications. Council must provide guidance regarding the overall direction and objectives.
- Be equipped to deliver accurate and consistent key messages to the audience
Village staff must also be aware of the issues to which the public will be exposed. The staff members will also be the major contributors to developing and implementing the program, as well as keeping the data current. An acceptance by staff of the program is essential. The communication of their needs and proposed improvements are also of value.
Communication Plan Audiences
The communication plan is intended to be used to deliver effective messages to two primary audiences –senior government agencies and the public.
Senior government is recognized as a primary audience. Our grant funding is contingent on senior government being convinced that we are managing our infrastructure responsibly. It is essential to communicate effectively with government agencies to position the Village to respond to funding grant opportunities and changes in government regulations that could impact the way in which infrastructure servicing is provided. In delivering messages to senior government, the communications plan takes into account that:
- Key senior government audiences are approving agencies and providers of grants – local senior government representatives can also be promoters of the Village’s sustainable approach
- These agencies want to be assured that the Village is making wise choices in how they are investing in infrastructure, protecting the environment and maintaining services to the public
- Specific funding opportunities and approval requests provide a forum for this type of communication
- Any communication to this audience must link the Village’s strategy and goals to the objectives of the senior governments and provide recognition of the government’s support
The public is the other primary audience of the communications plan and as such many of the suggested tools are geared towards their understanding and support of investing in proactive decision-making. In delivering messages to the public, the communications plan takes into account the following:
- The public’s opinion of the state of the Village’s infrastructure and the necessary investment is typically based on limited information
- Interest in the topic can range from apathy to active involvement (both negative and positive)
- Public support for adopting a sustainable approach should be garnered on a foundation of trust and open dialogue
- The main thrust at the outset of the program should be on public education
- The solicitation of public input should be clearly defined and sought at strategic opportunities. When public input is to be sought, the Village must clearly understand how their input will be used to influence decisions.
- Any public communication material should be engaging and non-technical in nature
Key Messages of the Communications Plan
There are a number of important messages that the communications plan will deliver in a variety of ways. These include but are not limited to:
- Well-functioning infrastructure provides a basis for the community’s operations
- The infrastructure is aging
- The Village will continue to be good stewards of the community and its infrastructure
- The Village will consider the impact on the natural environment when making infrastructure investment decisions
- The Village will maintain a competitive tax rate
- A long-term approach is required to ensure the community makes the right choices
- The Village needs to be proactive in maintaining the infrastructure in order to service the existing community as well as to be attractive to industry and to diversify the economy
By proactively communicating about asset management the Village will provide important context for the various infrastructure projects to key stakeholders and increase the chances that initiatives will be well understood and supported by them. Effective communication tools can take many forms and must be adapted to their specific context. Some simple and effective tools are noted below: