Okotoks will be receiving almost $50,000 from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in an effort to improve the town’s asset management.
The town hopes to use this investment to integrate its Tangible Capital Asset data with its Geographic Information System (GIS).
Tangible Capital Assets are the significant economic resources managed by a community — such as a road infrastructure, water management, and utility systems. GIS maps are used to help observe patterns and relationships, and to provide geological context.
By merging the two, asset managers like Mark Styranka, a specialist hired by the town of Okotoks in 2018, can approach the data much more efficiently.
“The goal is to formalize the process among all the assets in the town where we know the condition of all the assets possible,” said Styranka, and that will help the town to create “a magical formula to help decide [our] priorities”.
What Styranka hopes to match up individual asset identifiers with the town’s available GIS maps. With over 30,000 individual assets available, that is no small task.
Styranka himself applied for the funding, and he said the town hopes to use that money to acquire an additional staff member.
“Roads are the big one left to do. If we did it ourselves it would take maybe two years,” said Styranka, “[now] we’ll hopefully have it done by the end of the year.”
Okotoks is one of 37 Alberta communities receiving an investment from the FCM in order to bolster asset management. Founded in 1901, the advocacy group receives funding from the federal government and in turn allocates it to municipalities across Canada.
“[Communities in Canada are] working to enhance their infrastructure and natural assets so they can continue to have sustainable and reliable services to improve residents’ quality of life,” said FCM president Joanne Vanderheyden in a February press release.
“Ensuring local governments have the right tools to make sound asset management decisions is one way we can help drive Canada’s economic recovery.”
Okotoks and the FCM have a long-standing relationship. In 2001, the town received support from the FCM’s Green Municipal Fund (GMF) in order to revamp its wastewater treatment facility by equipping it with a composting system.
The result of this program was a 46 percent reduction in gross per capita water consumption and an estimated $63 million saved in water license purchases. In 2015, the project received an FCM Sustainable Communities award for the associated case study.
Okotoks again received this award in 2018 for its Living Soils filtration project, a stormwater management system.
These initiatives are just two of the 120 GMF-funded projects completed in Alberta thus far.
“I think sometimes Albertans get a bit of a rough ride because of being centred around oil,” said Styranka.
“Most people, especially in rural areas, are positive stewards of the land.”