Council updated on asset management ‘roadmap’

By Mike Robinson

KENILWORTH – Wellington North councillors continue to work on the township’s asset management “roadmap.”

On July 22, consultants Aman Singh and Thomas Uda of GHD presented council with an update.

By July 1, every municipality in the province was required to have its first strategic asset management policy in place. By 2021 municipalities are required to have an asset management plan for roads, bridges and water.

By 2023 municipalities are required to have an asset management plan for all other assets. Finally, by 2024 municipalities must develop more advanced asset management plans.

Uda explained the kickoff to the process began on  March 27, 2019 with core staff from different departments.

A draft version of the policy was left with staff to further review. A meeting was held in June to look at changes.

Uda outlined the eight elements required of an asset management policy:

– strategic alignment,

– guiding principles,

– capitalization threshold,

– governance and continuous improvement,

– budgeting,

– community planning,

– climate change; and

– stakeholder engagement.

In short, Uda said the municipality’s main goal with the plan is to optimize limited resources to maintain roads, bridges and watermains.

Plus, Uda added, the township wants to maintain appropriate levels of service, which requires balancing what residents want with potential risk and the money available.

He said objectives of the asset management policy are:

– formalizing township functions and practices;

– communicating to stakeholders the asset management principles and approach;

– outlining key responsibilities and reviewing processes for asset management; and,

– committing to the implementation of asset management methods.

Uda added the township will need to integrate asset management findings into its long-term financial plan and budget forecasts.

For community planning, Uda said the strategy is not just about growth, but the township’s ability to maintain its existing assets.

“Basically, this means the township recognizes and understanding both existing and growth-related needs … to be financially sustainable in the long term,” he said.

Uda noted the province requires the asset management plan to be updated at least every five years.

“On top of that, once the plan is implemented and available to the public, there is an annual review of the progress made.”

Uda said much of the responsibility for plan development and annual reviews falls on the finance department, with support of department leads.

Uda said the plan looks at mitigating the impact of climate as well as the costs associated with these changes.

Another item to be considered is sharing assets among municipalities, he said.

In looking at its current asset management score, Singh said the township, “given its resources for asset management and designated roles and responsibilities … is doing a great job.”

He noted staff was candid about participation. Overall, he said business processes tend to be informal in nature and not always consistent between departments.

Singh said “by-and-large most people are doing this on the side of their desk because they have a day job and this is an additional task they are being required to do.”

One of the largest risks for the municipality is that informal knowledge has not be codified, he said – “So as your staff retires or moves on, a lot of that knowledge is walking out the door.”

In terms of technology, Singh said a system is needed to ensure forecasting is part of decision making in order to maintain desired levels of service.

Singh recommended a number of initiatives related to planning, core service delivery, performance management and support services. – at an estimated overall  cost of $840,000 to $1,210,000.

Mayor Andy Lennox asked about a time frame for those costs.

Singh said they would be over 10 years.

Lennox said a lot of work has gone into the asset management plan, which will provide challenges moving forward.