Nanaimo drafts new strategy for infrastructure management

NANAIMO – The city joined 11 municipalities in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Leadership in Asset Management Program.

The City of Nanaimo will draft its first strategy to manage infrastructure, building best practices for Canadian municipalities along the way.

Nanaimo has won a $175,000 matching grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund to join 11 municipalities pioneering a template for asset management.

The city will also draft its own asset management strategy, learning how others in the program have tackled the issue, and review the level of service wanted in the community when it comes to  the condition of roads to cycling and intersections.

Nanaimo’s assets amounted to $2.2 billion in 2013, with $86 million in poor condition and nearing the end of its serviceable life, according to a city update. It’s already taken steps to plan for future replacement, including bolstering reserves with property tax increases, but the city doesn’t have a policy or strategy to guide it.

There are a cross-section of municipalities involved in the FCM’s three-year Leadership in Asset Management program, which will give the city a chance to hear how others have tackled challenges and what best practices are, according to Geoff Goodall, the city’s director of engineering and public works, who says a better word for what they are doing is sustainable service delivery.

Asset management looks at a suite of services a municipality provides and how they are provided sustainably, he said, adding the city’s new strategy and policy will integrate plans already in place that have economic, social and environmental pieces in them.

“In the long run [taxpayers] are going to get the confidence the city is delivering the services that we deliver in the most sustainable, responsible manner,” Goodall said.

Raymond Louie, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and acting mayor of the City of Vancouver, said for far too long there’s been a separation between economics and sustainability.

“Today we know that if we build it right, if we build it for longer term, it provides better service for us,” he said. “It costs us less for operating and helps maintain quality of life and environment we have today.”

The program is a “pure learning opportunity,” he said, where municipalities will be able to test ideas and learn what’s worked and what hasn’t, mix sustainability goals with asset management and create a template for urban and rural centres to use across Canada.

Nanaimo will work in two phases, beginning with a strategy this year. A level of service review will happen in 2017. Other municipalities participating in the program include, Vancouver, Revelstoke, and Edmonton.