How we manage community assets

By District Staff on Wednesday, Mar 8, 2023

As traffic flows along Mountain Highway this winter, a machine 10 metres under the surface will tunnel its way toward a more sustainable future for the District.

The micro-tunnel boring machine will excavate a 1200mm-wide tube-shaped path for concrete pipes to be placed behind it — a key step to replacing the trunk sewer between East 24th and East 18th streets.

The Lynn Valley trunk sewer upgrade project is the first time the District is using a micro-tunnel boring machine, which will ensure access is maintained to Mountain Highway and ease effects on commuters by eliminating the need for cut-and-cover excavation that could impact both driveways and traffic.

The machine being used is a smaller-scale example of the work larger tunnel-boring machines are doing around the region like excavating a train or water supply tunnel, and the project is a display of the District’s asset management in action.

“By putting in this trunk sewer, it will mean that the sewer capacity in that area is sustainable for 80 to 100 years,” says Richard Burberry, project manager for the Lynn Valley trunk sewer upgrade. “It means that the infrastructure in that area is future-proofed.”

The current sewer is nearing its expected service life after operating since 1964 and will be unable to meet future demands. The new sewer infrastructure will carry sanitary waste for approximately 21,000 area residents, meeting current and future requirements in the Lynn Valley area.

“This has been identified as an area that needs investment, and this project is that investment,” Burberry says.

Forecasting for the future 

From sewers to traffic signals, golf courses and even library books, assets are anything the District owns. Managing assets is an important part of how the District considers infrastructure’s future costs and risks, makes informed decisions and ensures the affordability and sustainability of important services.

“As you look out further and further ahead, you can see infrastructure coming due and you need to find ways of funding that. So, it’s very much a long-term, forward-looking exercise,” says Andy Wardell, the District’s General Manager of Finance and Chief Financial Officer.

Through Wardell’s office, the District co-chairs Asset Management BC, which assembles local governments, the province, and other partner organizations to support British Columbia communities to achieve sustainable service delivery through asset management best practices.

The District is a leader in the field and one of the first in Canada to use the National Asset Management Strategy (NAMS) approach created in Australia. NAMS is a scalable approach to asset management that has now seen over 300 Canadian municipalities take the training. NAMS integrates the stewarding of assets into financial plans, and finally performance measures that track progress. The strategy has been used in the District since 2009, but according to Wardell, “for as long as there have been local governments, people have been managing assets.”

A young girl stands on a creek-viewing platform looking down for fish on a bright summer day.

Sustainable service delivery 

The District has 17 different asset management plans that document the infrastructure our community owns, what work needs to be done and when over each asset’s full life cycle including replacement costs.

Assets are gauged for physical condition, demand and capacity, and functionality, using a shared, reader-friendly rating system from very good to very poor. This helps guide the District in determining when an asset like the Lynn Valley sewer requires capital investment, ensuring that public funds are used wisely so that services remain high quality and affordable, and leave a legacy for future generations.

“The best way of describing what we do is ‘asset management for sustainable service delivery’ — that is the end goal, Wardell says.

“The reality is this is the infrastructure that everyone relies upon in their daily lives; municipalities lay the foundation for that way of life.”

Learn more about the Lynn Valley trunk sewer upgrade project

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