Local governments across Canada are faced with significant asset management challenges. Many of the services they provide - including water and wastewater delivery, waste removal, transportation, and environmental services - depend on engineered infrastructure assets that are in need of renewal. Meanwhile, the effects of climate change are expected to put even more strain on these assets and on local government budgets going forward.
But there is one class of assets that local governments are under-accounting for: natural assets. Natural assets are ecosystem features that are nature-based and providing services that would otherwise require the costly equivalent of engineered infrastructure.
For local governments, natural assets can include forests which convey stormwater and recharge aquifers, wetlands which reduce flooding risk, and coastal areas which protect against storm surges and sea level rise, among others.
By identifying natural assets at the community level and prioritizing them in municipal asset management, local governments can secure important budget savings while also delivering vital municipal services more efficiently and adapting to climate change.
The Municipal Natural Assets Initiative aims to equip local governments across Canada with the tools needed to identify and account for natural assets at the community level, as well as the best practice guidelines for working with community stakeholders to increase natural asset management.
Request for comments
As part of the MNAI, we are conducting short research pieces to help fill in some knowledge gaps. Our first piece is on defining and scoping Municipal Natural Assets. As this is a completely new research area, we want to hear your thoughts!
Read our discussion paper and submit your comments by March 31, 2017.