Town covering its assets with new policy

by Colin Smith

Town council has taken a step toward the long-sought-after goal of having an asset management program.

At its November 16 regular meeting, Council voted to approve an asset management policy proposed by the Town of Morinville administration.

Morinville has received funds through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Municipal Asset Management grant program to go toward developing the policy, along with the resulting strategy and program plan.

Approval of the policy moves forward on Strategic Priority 5, Develop An Asset Management Plan, contained in the Council Strategic Plan.

It has also for some time been a stated aim of council members, notably Lawrence Giffin of the last council.

“The purpose of an asset management plan is to help municipalities maintain and operate infrastructure in the most effective way so that the community receives critical services,” Michelle Hay, General Manager, Administrative Services, told Council.

Hay said other benefits include projecting full life-cycle costs, levels of service, risks and future demands, and helping to avoid the risk of premature asset failure.

It also aids municipalities to improve and standardize data management and evaluate return on investments.

The policy reflects work done by the administration and consultant MuniSight with the purpose of establishing asset management practices to meet the needs and strategic goals of the Town of Morinville.

The intent is to come up with a coordinated, reliable, and sustainable approach to infrastructure asset management across the organization, prioritizing it and facilitating a reduction in overall life-cycle costs of infrastructure assets.

Specific policies include the establishment of an administrative asset management steering committee and for department managers to encourage the adoption of asset management policy principles and allocate resources for them.

Asked where things go from here, Hay said, “We implement the plan, which tells us this is the data we have, this where the gaps remain, and this is the condition-reading we have to do.”

She noted the emphasis now shifts from high-level planning across departments to ground-level work in which Infrastructure Services staff assess the condition of Morinville’s assets.

Councillor Rebecca Balanko thanked the administration for the work put into developing the program.

“I love to see it’s moving forward and there’s a plan,” she said. “And we’re likely to see what that plan like looks in the next couple of years fully and completely.”

Before the policy was approved, Council adopted an amendment proposed by Deputy Mayor Stephen Dafoe that the administration provide an annual update on it.

“I think asset management is a fantastic thing,” he said. “I’m so glad we’re finally doing it. But I’d love to have regular updates and I think once a year is right.

“It gives a touchpoint within the policy. It’s something we’re all excited about and want to know.”

The motion to approve the new policy passed 7-0.

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