UNSM Spring Workshop
The UNSM Spring Workshop is taking place at St.F.X. University from May 10-12. Presentation topics include Physician Recruitment, Transforming Services for People with Disabilities, An Overview of Nova Scotia's Affordable Housing Landscape including Municipal Partnerships, Municipal Trail Blazers in the areas of waste reduction and flood mitigation, and Municipal Responsibilities and Opportunities with the Federal Gas Tax Fund and Asset Management. Central Nova MP Sean Fraser will be giving remarks on behalf of the Federal Government. To receive the early bird rate please register by May 2.To register, click here.
UPDATE ON ASSET MANAGEMENT PLANNING IN NOVA SCOTIA
The purpose of this asset management update is twofold:
- to provide an update on progress made with Nova Scotia’s asset management program and an overview of the requirements under the federal Gas Tax Fund (please see below); and
- to inform you about an upcoming teleconference meeting – to be hosted by UNSM and Department of Municipal Affairs - to provide details on the Province’s asset management program and discuss any initial project ideas you may be considering for FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Program funding to ensure they align with Nova Scotia’s initiative (details to follow shortly).
An Update on Asset Management Planning in Nova Scotia
The renewed 2014-24 Gas Tax Fund (GTF) places a greater emphasis on long-term capital planning and asset management. As a result, Nova Scotia is developing a province-wide asset management system for municipal infrastructure. It is expected to include, at a minimum, an inventory of assets and a condition of infrastructure. Municipalities have agreed to participate in this initiative and are working with the Province towards this goal. Nova Scotia will provide Infrastructure Canada with a progress update along with the 2018 Outcomes Report as per the GTF Agreement. The Agreement defines an asset management plan as a document that “supports integrated life-cycle approaches to effective stewardship of infrastructure assets in order to maximize benefits and manage risks”.
How is the Province of Nova Scotia Supporting Municipalities in Moving Froward with Asset Management?
Currently, the Province (through the Department of Municipal Affairs) is consulting with municipalities and relevant stakeholder groups to develop a province-wide asset management tracking and reporting system to support municipalities in making progress with their plans. Recognizing that municipalities are diverse and have varying levels of capacity to undertake asset management planning, the Province is committed to working collaboratively with them to develop a system that:
- allows municipalities to collect the relevant asset information required to make informed infrastructure decisions, while ensuring they meet the minimum asset management requirement in their Municipal Funding Agreements; and
- is scalable and provides flexibility, which would allow a municipality to customize their level of asset reporting if they wanted to collect more detailed information for internal purposes.
Although the Province aims to build flexibility into the program, it also intends to develop a standardized approach for gathering and reporting asset information. By developing standardized units of measure across the various asset classes and for condition assessments, the asset management program will help identify infrastructure trends and requirements across municipalities.
In terms of a Nova Scotia-specific asset management program, the Province also recognizes the importance of creating efficiencies in the reporting requirements and focusing on value-added reporting for municipalities. Essentially, the Province is aiming to develop an asset management system that will support municipalities in making informed, evidence-based decisions to ensure the sustainability of their services, and help them manage risks and meet fiduciary responsibilities.
What is Nova Scotia's Infrastructure Asset Management Working Group?
In an effort to ensure Nova Scotia’s asset management program is relevant and effective for municipalities, the Province established the Infrastructure Asset Management Working Group in the fall of 2015. The composition of the Working Group is diverse and includes representatives nominated from UNSM, the Association of Municipal Administrators, the Municipal Public Works Association of Nova Scotia, Atlantic Infrastructure Management (AIM) Network and the Department of Municipal Affairs. Participants include elected officials, municipal administrative and technical staff, and association and provincial representatives. Its purpose is to:
- provide leadership, direction and support for the development and implementation of a province-wide local government asset management strategy;
- share information and promote educational/training opportunities;
- consider and identify funding for asset management tools, resources and projects; and
- interact with other agencies, governments and associations to exchange information.
A UNSM staff member serves as the coordinator for the Working Group and provides support to organize meetings, develop agendas and record minutes. In addition to her role on the Working Group, she also provides support for the Province’s asset management initiatives by developing resources and training opportunities for municipalities.
Recent Progress & Next Steps with Asset Management in Nova Scotia
The Province has plans to initiate a pilot project late in the spring of 2017 with 2- 3 municipalities to test data collection templates for linear asset (including water pipes, sewer lines, roads and sidewalks/trails). Through lessons learned and best practices established from working with the pilot municipalities, the Province will develop a standardized methodology for collecting data and assessing the condition of assets. It is anticipated that this work will include standardized templates to help ensure consistency in municipal infrastructure reporting in Nova Scotia. This information will be made available to assist all municipalities with their asset management practices.
The Province is currently exploring options for acquiring an asset registry system, be it a spreadsheet or database system, which will allow municipalities to effectively and efficiently store asset information. Municipalities will use the asset registry system to house and maintain basic information on municipal assets, which will allow them to make informed, strategic decisions about their infrastructure. The Province will work with municipalities to assist in populating the asset registry, which will serve as critical step towards the development of asset management plans in Nova Scotia.
Through the Working Group’s UNSM and AMA representatives, municipalities will be kept updated as work progresses on developing Nova Scotia’s asset management program. For more information on the Province’s role in moving asset management forward in Nova Scotia or the Infrastructure Asset Management Working Group, please contact Ahmad Shahwan, Municipal Advisor, Department of Municipal Affairs at or (902) 424-5537.
The Upcoming Asset Management Teleconference Meeting
UNSM will issue a separate announcement shortly providing details on the teleconference meeting to discuss asset management planning in Nova Scotia.