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Holistic infrastructure management a key issue for CPWA

Richard Gilbert
Holistic infrastructure management a key issue for CPWA

The two key policy issues for the Canadian Public Works Association (CPWA) in the run up to the next federal election and a pre-election debate on municipal issues are asset management, and building sustainable and resilient infrastructure.

"In terms of the first issue asset management, we think that the single most important thing is the appropriate planning for those significant investments through holistic asset management," said Kealy Dedman, CPWA president. "That will extend the useful life and keeps our community infrastructure safer for longer. So, we think there is a role for the federal government to play in promoting asset management to build capacity with municipalities."

Dedman represents CPWA’s 2,200 members on national public works and infrastructure issues with the federal government and works collaboratively with other stakeholder groups.

For this reason, the CPWA is informing the public about the municipal issues that matter the most to its members as voters get ready to go to the polls for the general election on Oct. 19, 2015.

Dedman said the number one priority for the CPWA is asset management, which is defined by the Canadian Network of Asset Managers (CNAM) as the co-ordinated activities of an organization to realize value from its assets in the achievement of its organizational objectives.

CPWA and CNAM are two of the founding organizations involved in the production of the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card (CIRC) project.

The survey questionnaires for the 2015 CIRC Report Card (CIRC) have been sent out to every mayor and chief operating officer in 3,700 municipalities across the country, in order to carry out an evaluation of basic infrastructure.

The report card provides an assessment of the condition of four primary asset categories of municipal infrastructure: drinking-water systems, wastewater and stormwater networks and municipal roads. The survey results will be released this fall.

The second priority issue for the CPWA is building sustainable and resilient infrastructure.

According to Dedman, this is about building for tomorrow, not just now, and preparing for whatever changes might be in store, whether it is climate change or something else.

"There are a number of different ways to ensure that. Sustainability rating tools are one thing that are of interest to our membership," she said. "Sustainability and resiliency are one of the areas that are related to climate change."

CPWA members dealt with the effects of flooding in Alberta and the Greater Toronto Area in 2013.

Dedman said municipal infrastructure must be able to withstand future changes, but also changes that are driven by demographics or economic growth.

The efforts of the CPWA to inform the public are part of a broader campaign to support a pre-election debate between the leaders of the four main political parties. Canada’s three opposition parties agreed to participate in a debate during a meeting of the mayors of Canada’s largest cities in June.

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