Infrastructure for St. Clair Township

Infrastructure for St. Clair Township

Questions at the door: Continuing with detailed and technical questions and answers series, next on my list are questions about infrastructure projects.

When asked at the doors about the number one issue facing St. Clair Township, infrastructure issues always come up.

When upgrades to any Township assets are scheduled, they are listed in the “Capital Budget” passed every year by Council.

Progress on that Capital Budget is tracked by staff and then it is reported to Council periodically.

The Capital Budget for St Clair Township includes the following categories:

  • Emergency Services
    • Fire Department
  • Finance
    • Information Technology
  • Community Services
    • Mooretown Complex
    • Recreation Facilities
    • Museums
    • Parks Equipment
    • Park Facilities
    • Campgrounds
    • Golf Course
  • Engineering & Public Works
    • Roads
    • Bridge Structures
    • Sidewalks & Trails
    • Streetlights & Signalized Intersections
    • Water Network
    • Stormwater Assets / Drains
    • Wastewater Assets
    • * Facilities & Equipment

Funding for asset replacement comes from a variety of sources including:

  • Tax levies
  • User Fees
  • Debt Financing
  • 3rd Party Contributions
  • Reserves

The thresholds and whether an expenditure is included in the Capital Budget or the Operating Budget is determined by the Capital Budget and Financing Policy (November 2018).

The Role of Council in Asset Management

Asset management involves making coordinated decisions about maintaining, replacing, and repairing municipal infrastructure. This practice allows municipalities to handle their assets in a sustainable way and provide reliable services to their citizens.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Council is the ultimate authority, and it is responsible for support of “Organizational Strategic Plans” and “Asset Management Plans” and “Resources Support” with ongoing implementations and improvements to those assets.

Council is tasked with:

  • Approving by resolution Asset Management Plans at least every 5yrs
  • Reviewing annually the Asset Management planning progress and strategy prior to July 1st
  • Reviewing and passing yearly Capital Budgets based on the plans and other factors.

Asset Management Policies for St Clair Township

The asset management planning process identifies and prioritizes asset spending needs and provides the input for the forecasted Capital & Operating budgets, and Long-term Financial Planning.

The Policy needs to recognize the residents, businesses, institutions, stakeholders and neighbouring municipal bodies, provincial agencies, and regulated utilities partners.

The Policy therefore provides opportunities for residents and other stakeholders served by the municipality to provide input into the asset management planning.

The Asset Management Steering Committee (AMSC), formed in 2017, provides leadership, direction, and governance to engage the entire Municipality in establishing, sustaining and improving Asset Management throughout the Organization.

The Asset Management Plan, approved in 2021 only discusses the following Public Works assets:

(also listed above in the Capital budget section)

  • Roads
  • Bridge Structures
  • Sidewalks & Trails
  • Streetlights & Signalized Intersections
  • Water Network
  • Stormwater Assets
  • Wastewater Assets

The Township has separate asset management plans for Buildings and Improved assets (facilities), Community Services, and Emergency Services assets.

These are managed outside the main Asset Management Plan, and they were passed previously by Council.

Public Works Asset Valuation is determined by using current Estimated Unit Replacement Costs against inventory by category.

  • Typical Unit Replacement Cost x modifier x asset data (length, area, or number of) = Asset Replacement Value

The Public Works Network calculates the replacement value of its assets at $1.16 Billion in 2021 dollars.

This means that the Township should allocate over $35 Million per year to ensure future sustainability of Public Works assets based on the industry recommendation of 2-4% yearly investments in renewal of those assets.

The Asset Management plan states that the overall condition of our Public Works infrastructure is “Good”.

A 10-year projection of Public Works, evaluation of levels of service and annual expenditure was developed based on the condition of the infrastructure and levels of service being provided by the Township as well as other risk factors.

The final decision on capital improvement work however is influenced by “Political” issues or other considerations from public stakeholders.

Practical engineering expertise is therefore essential in the decision-making process.

The Township of St. Clair has historically been in a reactive, “worst-first” environment, but they are moving towards a proactive, optimized life management of the assets, through the Asset Management Plan.

There are lots of decisions to be made by the new council and the 2023 Budgets will be job number one coming in after inauguration.

If elected, I hope to hit the ground running given my background and experience, and my research into the process, policies and procedures for capital budgeting within the Township.

The Asset Management Plan will also be key in upcoming discussions about St. Clair Township’s upcoming overall Strategic Plan.

For an update on the progress of the 2022 Capital Budget, it was recently discussed at the October 2022 session of Council.

~Gary Martin~



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