Public infrastructure is central to our prosperity and our quality of life. That is why the province released Building Together, a long-term infrastructure plan for Ontario, in June 2011. Building Together responds to the far reaching trends that will affect Ontario’s infrastructure needs, including a more global and service-oriented economy; a larger, older and more urbanized population; and the effects of a changing climate. The plan sets out a strategic framework that will guide future investments in ways that support economic growth, are fiscally responsible, and respond to changing needs. A key element of this framework is ensuring good stewardship through proper asset management.
Municipalities deliver many of the services that are critical to Ontarians, and these services rely on well-planned, well-built and well-maintained infrastructure. For example, municipalities are responsible for more than 15,000 bridges and large culverts and more than 140,000 kilometres of roads that support the movement of people and goods. In addition, more than 10 million Ontarians depend on municipal water and/or wastewater services.
Despite significant investments by all orders of government, more needs to be done to address current and emerging municipal infrastructure needs. That is why the province committed through Building Together to work with municipalities and the federal government to establish a municipal infrastructure strategy.
As part of the strategy, policy activities in the following three areas will need to be discussed:
- Making asset management planning and public reporting universal.
- Making optimal use of the full range of budgeting and infrastructure financing tools.
- Addressing the structural challenges that are confronting small municipalities.
Resolving municipal infrastructure challenges begins with improved asset management. The province views this as a prerequisite for a productive discussion about solutions, including permanent funding for municipal infrastructure.
In Building Together, the province stated that any municipality seeking provincial infrastructure funding must demonstrate how its proposed project fits within a detailed asset management plan. This will help ensure that limited resources are directed to the most critical needs.
Comprehensive Asset Management Plan
As a result, Public Sector Digest prepared a comprehensive asset management plan on behalf of the Township of Huron-Kinloss. The initial plan was presented to Council on January 20, 2014 and contains strategies to ensure the sound management of municipal infrastructure at a strategic, tactical and financial level.
On October 3, 2016 Council approved an updated version of the Asset Management Plan that was expanded to include all categories of assets, not just core infrastructure. The report will be used to guide future decision making.
In addressing the state of the Township’s infrastructure, a report card system was developed that “graded” the current condition of the Township’s assets as well as the financial capacity to fund each asset’s rehabilitation or replacement.
The report will continue to be updated on a regular basis to allow the integration of new and more detailed information on asset condition.