Asset Management Awareness Day

May 18, 2022 is Asset Management Awareness Day in BC. Fernie, like local governments across Canada is facing unprecedented infrastructure challenges that are threatening the ability to sustainably deliver necessary services now, and in future generations. This reality demands a shift in the management approach of local governments to include integrated asset management systems.

The City of Fernie is committed to advancing our asset management program. As we work todward developing an Asset Management Policy and a two-year Asset Management Strategy to be completed later in 2022, the following is an overview of work underway to advance asset management practices at the City of Fernie:

1. Funding the Deficit with Senior Government Grants

Municipalities now more than ever face a challenging road ahead. One short term approach the City has been focused on funding urgent and emerging infrastructure renewal and needs is through aggressive applications for senior government grants and transfers. This City has received over $14M in grants in recent years with more applications pending funding approval, and applications in the works for critical water, wastewater, flood and wildfire mitigation infrastructure and high community value public recreation infrastructure. Fernie’s high success rate in bringing in senior government funding does not come without its challenges, including a need for more and better project management capacity, significant increases to contract management, a need for cross functional teams and inter-departmental collaboration, and a faster pace and demand for increased communications and engagement.

2. Defining Service Levels and Understanding the Sustainability Gap

The scale of sustainability challenges that municipalities like Fernie are facing, demands an intentional and consistent approach to educating the community on service levels, and develop shared language and understanding of current service levels and challenges. Later this year, City staff will be working with Asset Management BC consultants over a 10-week period on defining service levels, identifying gaps and sustainability challenges, and developing a high-level communication piece to inform future work on prioritizing service reviews and the budget process. This work is fully subsidized through a successful application from Asset Management BC and will serve as a necessary baseline to advancing service sustainability initiatives moving forward.

3. CAMP Team - Integrated Asset Management System’s Approach

Developing an effective asset management (AM) system and culture across the organization is critical to addressing the significant infrastructure challenges that the City is facing. Developing an AM system in a municipality is much like developing any other management system. It will include a collection of interrelated objectives, policies, management practices, and processes, together with other documents and tools that will be used to manage the assets required to deliver services in the community (FCM, 2018, Pg. 2). An Asset Management System should work alongside other management systems in our municipality, such as financial management, health and safety management and others. These management systems should be aligned and integrated, where appropriate, to ensure a consistent approach to achieving the City’s organizational goals and objectives.  The City of Fernie established a renewed cross functional asset management focused team in late 2021 to inform the development and implementation of an integrated asset management systems approach across the organization. This team, the Capital Asset Management Team (CAMP Team) represents all areas of the organization. 

4. Best Practices and Investing in Professional Development

The city has successfully received a 90% training subsidy valued at over $30k from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Municipal Asset Management Program (MAMP) for several staff on the CAMP Team to complete the Asset Management Professional designation. The Team began the program in November 2021 and will continue the fast-paced program dedicated for cross functional municipal teams throughout 2022 and ending in November 2023.

5. Committing to Asset Management, A Council Policy Approach

An AM Policy is a relatively new governance tool in local government. The City of Fernie is among several municipalities across Canada advancing this work with their Council. The role of an AM Policy is to state overarching principles to guide asset management in a manner that allows the organization to realize value from their assets in a manner that is consistent with organizational objectives. Assets include human, natural, physical, and intangible (intangible assets such as the City’s reputation or brand). The AM policy is intended to ensure all employees and functions of the City are aligned with organizational objectives as they relate to asset management. Council can expect a draft AM Policy for their consideration at a regular meeting of Council in June 2022. 

6. Clarifying Organizational Objectives – Developing Line of Sight

Municipalities are often faced with competing pressures and must frequently make tradeoffs between performance, cost, and risk and between short- and long-term objectives. Deciding which tradeoffs to make to achieve the best outcome for the municipality is very challenging, because discrete functions in a municipality can often operate in their own silos, with little coordination with other functions. Municipalities can address this problem by building a clear “line of sight” from the municipality’s high-level objectives down to the asset management objectives that will drive front-line decisions and activities. 

Read the complete Asset Management Update from the May 16 COTW meeting.