City services are a vital part of daily life. The infrastructure, facilities, equipment, tools and machinery (collectively called “assets”) used to provide city services must be kept in a good state of maintenance and repair to enable the services to be delivered in a manner that meets citizen expectations. Citizens expect clean and safe drinking water when they turn on their taps, they expect the fire department to show up when they are called, and they expect their roads to be in reasonably good condition so they can get to work, school or wherever their journey takes them.
Like many cities in Canada, Selkirk is facing the challenges of continuing to deliver urban services to its citizens with aging infrastructure. Construction and maintenance costs for roads, pipes, facilities and other infrastructure continue to grow much faster than the rate of inflation.
As a small city that experienced negative growth for the three decades previous to 2011, Selkirk’s ability to keep up with the demands on infrastructure has been stretched to the limit. The old methods of managing civic infrastructure are not going to do. In the city’s strategic plan, capital asset management was identified as a goal and critical to delivering on the city’s strategic priority of achieving maximum value from community resources.
Investing in Asset Management
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Capital Asset Management
In 2014, the city began working on the creation of a “Capital Asset Management Program”. Capital Asset Management is an innovative practice that allows municipalities to better catalog, track and manage their assets. Using predictive modeling techniques, long-range maintenance planning, paired with long-term financial planning tools, capital asset management allows cities to get the most out of their infrastructure, extending its service life and helping to make better, more cost effective construction and renovation decisions.
Municipal capital asset management is a relatively new practice. Over the past decade, it’s been primarily large cities that have effectively put capital asset management programs into place. Selkirk, recognizing the serious challenges it faces over the next 20 years, has decided it too must adopt innovative capital asset management practices if it is going to continue to be a vibrant community offering a high-quality of life to its citizens.
Phase One – Getting Started and Building Our Asset Registry
In 2015, the city created its first asset registry, cataloging every major asset component it manages. Assets such as road surfaces, road bases, sidewalks, water mains, sewer mains, storm-sewer mains, curbs, fire hydrants, facilities, vehicles, heavy equipment, and many others were cataloged and had their conditions assessed. This registry has over 6,600 assets, each of which has up to 30 different characteristics, measurements, values and condition ratings linked to it. This was a huge undertaking, but it represents the first bold step in developing a capital asset management program for the City of Selkirk.
The results of this work were recorded in the “Creating Value from our Physical Assets” phase one report.
Asset Management as a Core Function of City Government
In 2017, the City of Selkirk took some important steps to embed asset management as a core business practice of city government. First the City prepared its Capital Asset Management Strategy, which outlines the vision for its asset management program and it identified the steps the City will take over the next few years to build a robust and resilient asset management program.
Selkirk Council then took the bold step of approving By-law 5300 which mandates the City to have an asset management program. The by-law sets out the program’s objectives and establishes clear responsibilities for both City administration as well as Council for the effective delivery of the program.
City Administration has outlined a high-level legislative framework for the Capital Asset Management program. This framework identified the key policy, procedures and tools that it will develop over the next few years to meet the objectives and requirements as set out in By-law 5300.
The next phases of this project will see the creation the policies, procedures and tools as outline in the program’s legislative framework. These internal tools will guide City Council and Administration as it makes infrastructure decisions in the future. Later, new software applications will be purchased that will provide additional tools to better manage all of the city’s asset data, keeping it current in real-time and making use of “best practices” as they become available.
As Selkirk continues its asset management journey, this page will be updated with more information and useful links. Check back soon!