Asset Management Planning

All Ontario Municipalities must have an Asset Management Policy in place by July 1, 2019 and an Asset Management Plan for core municipal infrastructure assets by July 1, 2021 and for all assets by July 1, 2023.  Cobourg has had a basic Asset Management Plan for some time (using GIS) but it does not yet have a “policy” – this would spell out which assets are included, when to use it, how it aligns with financial planning, who is responsible for it and how residents can provide input to it.  At Council’s next Committee of the Whole meeting, Melanie Chatten, G.I.S. Coordinator of the Town of Cobourg, will provide an update on progress in improving the plan.  Previously, Cobourg’s Asset Management plan using the Geographic Information System (G.I.S.) only considered the depreciation of the asset’s value.

GIS Updates

Albert Street
Albert Street

Now, Provincial Regulations specify an Asset Management Plan that considers current condition, critical risk factors, expected life, optimum intervention strategies to maintain service levels and cost effectiveness, regulatory requirements and financing availability.   That is, not just list the assets and where they are (as done by a basic GIS) but make sure they are managed scientifically and efficiently. In 2017, the Town hired Esri Canada to help with this.

GIS Overview

Cobourg has:

135 km of roads
118 km of sidewalks
104 km of sanitary sewer
100 km of storm sewer
135 km of water network
In Cobourg’s GIS, these systems total about 18,000 records.

Based on attributes that vary by the type of asset (e.g. condition assessments and/or age) and with algorithms that vary with asset type, dates when assets need maintenance or replacement can now be scientifically calculated. For example, initial results show that Albert Street from Third Street to Ontario Street needs rebuilding now (estimated cost $1.5M) and William Street from Five Corners to University should be replaced inside 20 years.  Similar calculations can be applied (and have been) to sanitary and storm sewers and water supply pipes. (Download Full Asset Management Plan Presentation below).

Also, taking the projections overall, budget planning is more scientific – evidence based if you will.

The whole process takes into account risk as well – that is, the importance of an asset varies.  For example, roads near the Hospital are more important than residential roads and some storm sewers are nearing or over-capacity.

It seems like a much more pro-active approach to maintenance of assets so it would be worth doing.  The inclusion of “condition assessment” as an input would seem to allow a degree of common sense to be applied.

Let’s still refrain from “fixing it if it ain’t broken” and conversely, don’t hold off if repairs are obviously needed.


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Walter L. Luedtke
21 September 2018 9:11 am

Our Cobourg News Blog, written and edited by John Draper, is a treasure.
Its main focus is municipal politics – where scrupulously objective coverage is often at a premium.
John’s articles are comprehensive and cogent and the documentation links are a real help.
Thank you John!
There are a number of posters in these pages who are veteran observers of Cobourg’s Townhall.
I wonder if it would be possible to invite them to be occasional ‘guest columnists’ and write a column on the municipal matter of their choice?

18 September 2018 2:54 pm

“Let’s still refrain from “fixing it if it ain’t broken” and conversely, don’t hold off if repairs are obviously needed.” Unfortunately these to me are mutually exclusive. Councilors and planning departments alike should get compensated (if thats what it takes) somehow for doing the right thing i.e. not leaving infrastructure deficit to the account of new arrivals and younger generation. Here is a motion: Dividends from Northam and Holdco shall only be used on capital infrastructure fixes and / or opportunities to reduce maintenance costs. These Dividends are not to be used for glory and / or pandering to special persons and / or interest groups.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  gerinator
18 September 2018 3:27 pm

Uh Oh!
Not Holdco and Northam again.
And ‘pandering’ too.
You should really get new material.
Or have the CTA assign another operative to Holdco/Northam case file.

18 September 2018 10:58 am

It is not good enough to replace old and failing infrastructure we have to have standards to maintain it. One failing example that comes to mind is the number of ‘roadcuts’ that occur whenever houses are hooked up to the services. This happens almost as soon as the road opens.

These roadcuts stay in place as poor repairs and become hazards in themselves. Witness the abomination patch on Division St at the VIA station. There are more on Ontario St.

When are the contractors going to be held accountable for the crappy workmanship and hazards the produce?

Walter L. Luedtke
18 September 2018 9:03 am

This ‘asset management’ planning is an excellent initiative and a bit overdue in view of the much-publicized backlog of infrastructure spending all across Ontario.
Thank you John for this lucid explanation and documentation!

manfred s
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
18 September 2018 9:55 pm

Walter, back in his 2010 election campaign to take over the reins of office from Peter Delanty, our present Mayor had as part of his platform a promise to implement an Asset Management program. Never mind that it had actually been mandated by the Province and was not his initiative at all, but here we are 8 years on and we’re just getting started as the deadline rises to stare us in the face. A piece of campaign fluff that finally will see the light of day, even if it does so only because of Provincial pressure now. Is this what you would include in your definition of “well governed”?

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  manfred s
18 September 2018 10:03 pm

Interesting Manfred.
Thanks for shedding some light on this.
Should have been done ages ago then.

manfred s
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
18 September 2018 10:15 pm

uh-huh, absolutely, but made for a great-sounding yet hollow campaign promise at the time.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  manfred s
19 September 2018 7:52 am

Actually, looking this up again Manfred, the regulation that “every municipality shall prepare an asset management plan in respect of its core municipal infrastructure assets by July 1, 2021”, just came out in December of last year,
Hope I am right on this.

manfred s
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
19 September 2018 8:17 am

Walter, I certainly don’t challenge your research or the dates being mentioned, but I do very clearly recall that there was a Provincial initiative on Asset Management already announced by the time that the 2010 election campaign was under way. I do not recall any specifics other than that a policy for all municipalities would be required at some time in the future. While my general memory may be softening of late, of this I am 100% certain.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  manfred s
19 September 2018 10:12 pm

Agreed Manfred. Seems that this infrastructure backlog has been around for ages.
“Infrastructure is under mounting pressure. Much of it was first built in the 1950s and 1960s and needs modern upgrades or replacement. A growing population is also increasing the burden on existing infrastructure and fueling the demand for new investments. It was estimated in 2008 that Ontario faces a municipal infrastructure gap of $60 billion that will take 10 years to close, leaving municipal governments with a bill of $6 billion each year, a figure that does not include the additional significant needs facing social housing, and culture and recreational facilities.” Ontario Municipal Association

Ken Strauss
Reply to  manfred s
20 September 2018 2:54 pm

I am too young to remember anything from 2010! However, the Ontario government released their “Building Together” infrastructure plan in June of 2011 which defined a framework for asset management. By 2012 the AMO had produced a position paper and many towns were well advanced in producing asset management plans.