08/02/2012

The results are in: AMO’s Municipal Infrastructure Asset Management and Priorities Survey.

WatchFile  Guest Column - Pat Vanini, Executive Director

Understanding our members’ needs and priorities is not just important to AMO – it’s crucial to advocating effectively on our members’ behalf. 

Our recent Municipal Infrastructure Asset Management and Priorities Survey was a key part of this. Over June and July, members shared information about their infrastructure priorities, capacity, management techniques and fiscal practices. With 181 responses in total, municipalities of all types and sizes were well-represented in the results. Clearly, Ontario’s municipalities are eager to make their needs and priorities heard. 

The full results will be available to members on AMO’s website after the full analysis is completed, but we can already provide a snapshot of what we’ve learned so far.
 

Local Asset Management

Municipalities are developing their capacity for local asset management, but they face substantial barriers. Lack of staff and lack of funding are the greatest challenges – 83 per cent of respondents list human resources as an obstacle, and 84 per cent list financial barriers. 

About a fifth of respondents have full asset management plans in place, while more than half have partial plans. Most respondents plan to complete asset management plans in the next five years, but financial constraints are slowing their progress. It’s clear that municipalities need stronger support to build their asset management capacities. These supports should be incorporated into capital investment programs.
 

Outside Funding

Funding from other orders of government is crucial to local municipal investment. There is a clear connection between cost-sharing programs and capital investment as a whole. Beyond these programs, 74 per cent of respondents use debt to finance their infrastructure projects. That’s likely to continue, since 72 per cent of respondents predict that debt will be a part of their infrastructure financing in the future. These numbers paint a clear picture: municipalities need sustained funding to meet their infrastructure demands.
 

Local Needs and Priorities

Respondents strongly emphasized the need for hard infrastructure, but they also told us that quality-of-life supports were a priority. On the list of municipal capital concerns, roads and bridges were at the top. Water and waste water followed closely behind. Interestingly, 75 per cent of respondents said that quality-of-life facilities like parks, libraries and community centres were in their top-five list of future capital priorities. On top of this, transit continues to be a major concern for our members.  

These results tell us that municipalities need more support to build complete communities that can attract and retain businesses and residents alike. More than anything, we know that municipalities need sustained, long-term funding from other orders of government. Municipalities also need a greater say. Communities that have sound asset management programs should be able to set their own priorities under these funding programs. 

Ontario’s faces an infrastructure deficit of $60 billion over the next ten years. As stimulus and other cost shared programs wind down, all three orders of government will need to work together to shape future infrastructure programs. AMO plans to play an active role in this process, and these survey results will help us do this. Your input helped to provide us with the information we need to continue to act as a strong voice for municipal infrastructure needs, and we thank you for it.