Yesterday, Municipalities of Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) commenced their first day of their three-day virtual conference – Recovery, Resilience, Leadership. In the first round of concurrent sessions, Dr. Kathleen Parewick, coordinator for MNL’s Building Asset Management (BAM) program, presented an update on the progress and advancement of BAM. Building the capacity of the program has been a forefront objective since the program began three years ago. To date, the program has had three rounds of funding under FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Program:
- Round 1 (2017-2018) – Basic outreach, introducing basic tools and commencing network-building
- Round 2 (2018-2020) – Targeted, peer-based training, integration with other MNL programs (Big Data, Big Ideas program) and provincial collaboration (AM toolkit)
- Round 3 (2020-2021) – Everyone-in-the-tent outreach using AMRS with dedicated AMO support
Since 2017, MNL has created multiple partnerships to advance asset management best practices through the program with various organizations including FCM, CNAM, MUN, CAN, Geomatics Atlantic, and Conservation Corps NL. Additionally, BAM has produced several asset management training modules related to Change Management, Strategic Management, Needs Analysis, Risk Management, and Decision Support that will be used in an upcoming CORE municipal training opportunity.
Moving forward, MNL is encouraging all municipalities to complete the asset management readiness scale and asks organizations to share their progress with them to better identify who needs what kind of assistance that is now available through the recent addition of a dedicated Asset Management officer to the BAM program. MNL continues to anxiously wait for the Province’s asset management administration – as part of the Gas Tax Fund – to release an asset management framework or guidance materials with Kathleen noting, “solid asset management leadership has been lacking. Hopefully this is something that we will see change under the new administration.”
MNL is not certain whether the Provincial government will be implementing asset management reporting requirements for future Gas Tax funding agreements. The commitment under the current Gas Tax Agreement is that by March 31, 2023 all municipalities in the Province will develop and/or implement an asset management plan. While there is no action that is currently penalizing municipalities for not having their asset management process started, MNL forewarns that this may change under the next provincial administration. It was reiterated that asset management, while it is a new practice and can take some time to implement, will pay dividends down the road and provide communities with a better handle on upcoming issues, making it easier to justify particular budgetary decisions as well as facilitate conversations with the municipal tax base.
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