Enhancing Ontario’s Rural Infrastructure Preparedness: Inter-Community Service Sharing in a Changing Climate — Interim Report 1: Key Informant Interview Results
The purpose of this study is to develop a climate change (CC) prepared inter-community service sharing strategy (ICSS) targeted to rural Ontario communities that capitalizes on infrastructure assessments that are undertaken through the asset management process (AMP). AMP is defined by the Ontario government as “…. the process of making the best possible decisions regarding the building, operating, maintaining, renewing, replacing and disposing of infrastructure assets. It helps prioritize infrastructure needs and ensures that investments are made in the right place and at the right time to minimize future repair and rehabilitation costs.” The objective of AMPs are to maximize benefits, manage risk, and provide satisfactory levels of service to the public in a sustainable manner. Asset management requires a thorough understanding of the characteristics and condition of infrastructure assets, as well as the service levels expected from them. It also involves setting strategic priorities to optimize decision making about when and how to proceed with investments. Finally, it requires the development of a financial plan, which is the most critical step in putting the plan into action. In Ontario, communities are encouraged to undertake the standardized AMP process. AMPs outline the state of local infrastructure (types, age, condition, valuation/replacement cost); expected levels of service (performance measures, external trends/issues); coordinated strategies for maintenance, growth, disposal and renewal including non-infrastructural solutions (integrated planning and land use planning); procurement options, benefits and costs including revenue streams, historic and forecasted costs for the life cycle of the assets, assessment of risk (probability, consequence, vulnerability); and financing options including ICSS potential. AMP challenges include lack of familiarity, personnel training, time and finances and data gaps.
Changes to AMP in Ontario are coming with the introduction of the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity (IJPA) Act (herein called Bill 6). The biggest change to AMP is that it will soon need to address the risks and vulnerabilities that may be caused by climate change to the municipality’s infrastructure assets. The core details of bill six can be found on the recently concluded public comment period, found on the environmental registry website.