The City of Whitehorse’s efforts to develop an asset management plan are continuing and could result in more staff being hired.
The work, council heard at an Aug. 1 council and senior management meeting, has the potential to cost upwards of $1.3 million over three years though it will be ongoing into the future as the city will continually be updating its lists of assets — including roads, buildings and land the city owns, their value, age and other details — once a full system is established.
While the Aug. 1 session was open to the public, documents and a PowerPoint presentation provided to council are not being made public.
In an email correspondence, city spokesperson Myles Dolphin said as the documents, including recommendations set out by a consultant, are internal they are not being shared.
“Basically this was an assessment of administration’s progress to council, it’s not a document that is going to council. We’re informing council of our ongoing work. And for similar reasons we wouldn’t be sharing the name of the consultant,” he wrote.
Throughout the discussion, director of corporate services Valerie Braga emphasized that the effort to look at city assets, assess their value, maintenance requirements, lifespan and other details will require ongoing upkeep.
Provinces like Ontario and British Columbia now require municipalities to have formal asset management plans in place, and there’s the possibility federal funding programs will also eventually require the plans, which means the city is putting in the effort to establish a more formal system. City council made asset management one of its major priorities for this term.
“We do have to start down the path,” Braga said, responding to concerns from Coun. Dan Boyd over a large asset management plan.
“Are we building a monster here?” he questioned, going on to suggest the city focus on the most critical components, such as roads.
As Braga pointed out though, the city has already been moving forward with asset management for a number of years, though not in such a concerted effort.
“To be clear,” Braga said. “We were doing this on an informal basis.”
As per recommendations set out in the consultant’s report: the city’s asset management committee has been reestablished, is meeting monthly and a terms of reference document has been adopted to guide its work.
Outlined in the recommendations from the mystery consultant is the hiring of an asset management coordinator. Braga said it’s hoped the potential term position could be in place by the end of the year and would assist the city in working between departments on asset management.
Eventually, a more permanent position may be hired, she said. It may be down the road two staffers are required to deal with management of city assets.
Other budget submissions for software, policies and such around asset management are anticipated to come forward as part of future budget submissions.
While the recommendations are estimated to cost the city $1.3 million over three years, Braga emphasized that will largely depend on how the recommendations are pursued by the city’s asset management committee.
Despite the cost, Coun. Steve Roddick argued there’s a greater risk in the city not having the information that comes with a high level asset management plan — information that can better direct the city on when to upgrade its assets and how to most efficiently go about doing so.
“I see this as a really worthwhile investment,” Roddick said.
Just how those efficiencies may be measured is not yet known.
Questioned about it by Coun. Samson Hartland, Braga said she would have to look into how that may be done.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org