Nature is our most valuable infrastructure asset.
View the Town of Gibsons' new Eco-Asset Strategy
endorsed by the Committee-of-the-Whole on
February 3, 2015.
To see how the Town is investing in the protection and enhancement of natural ecosystems as part of our infrastructure, watch this short video: https://youtu.be/Sc5z197VOW0
Gibsons’ natural capital assets, and the ecosystem services they provide, are a fundamental and integral part of the Town’s infrastructure. Natural capital assets provide clear advantages over engineered (or grey) infrastructure. They:
are cheaper to operate and maintain, if not degraded
may provide “free” ecosystem services
do not depreciate if properly managed
are carbon neutral or even carbon positive.
Gibsons is one the first Canadian municipalities to explore managing the natural capital in our community, such as green space, aquifers, foreshore area and creeks, using infrastructure and financial management concepts that are systematically applied to managing engineered assets. Our rationale is that the natural services provided by these systems, in the form of rainwater management, flood control and water purification, have tangible value to the community as, or more, effective as engineered infrastructure.
Bringing these natural assets into the same asset management system as engineered infrastructure recognizes the quantifiable value they provide to the community and integrates them into the municipal framework for operating budgets, maintenance and regular support.
Many of us are unaware of the infrastructure role played by parts of our natural environment and so we may not take the kinds of precautions that preserve our natural municipal infrastructure in good working condition. Gibsons is blessed with many natural assets. The following examples provide direct municipal services:
the Gibsons aquifer – Water storage and filtration
creeks, ditches, wetlands – Rain water management
the foreshore area – Natural seawall
We are very pleased that this year, after much discussion with our financial auditors, they agreed to include the following note our the Town’s financial statements:
"The Town is fortunate to have many natural assets that reduce the need for man-made infrastructure that would otherwise be required. This includes the Gibsons aquifer (water storage and filtration), creeks, ditches and wetlands (rain water management) and the foreshore area (natural seawall). Canadian public sector accounting standards do not allow for the valuation and recording of such assets into the financial statements of the Town. As such, these natural assets are not reported in these financial statements. Nevertheless, the Town acknowledges the importance of these assets and the need to manage them in conjunction with man-made infrastructure."
Our hope is that it leads to a broader conversion in the municipal finance community and ultimately the creation of an actual standard that communities can use for the valuation of their assets.WHAT ELSE HAVE WE BEEN DOING?Sharing Our Story
Since last fall, Town representatives have done several presentations to various organizations including political leaders, climate change policy makers, municipal engineers, etc. and have been receiving very positive feedback. As well, in partnership with the Art Farm, curriculum has been developed to engage with school-aged kids on the Coast who are learning about natural assets through several art projects:
The Aquifer Project
The Woodlands Project
The Foreshore Project (coming soon in 2016)
This video features footage from 'the Woodlands Camp' 2015 Spring Break edition: https://youtu.be/RDo7RuUlSZ4
Understanding the full contribution of these assets to our community will take many years. We have begun with perhaps our most valued asset: The Gibsons Aquifer…