With climate change and community resilience at the height of concerns regarding our communities’ futures, it is becoming increasingly apparent that natural infrastructure needs to be an integral part of municipal asset management. Ecological assets are being degraded and lost at a rapid rate, and Municipal Natural Asset Management (MNAM) is a long-term solution that planners can employ to provide multi-faceted benefits that protect and enhance ecosystems, communities and residents. A recent report identified the following 5 major barriers and 5 major opportunities professional planners face in incorporating MNAM on an appropriate scale:
- Planning policy does not generally include natural features as service providing assets.
- Natural features are inherently complex, and may be deemed as risky investments as opposed to grey infrastructure.
- Collaboration can be hindered by geographical and jurisdictional boundaries.
- The need for collaboration can cause priorities to shift as other stakeholders get involved.
- Municipal resource allocation suggests there are fewer resources available for MNAM.
- There are strong champions that provide critical leadership to help promote MNAM in council and municipal departments.
- Conservation Authorities are at the forefront of collaboration and can inspire coordination between municipalities.
- Existing sustainability mandates and natural feature protection laws can be leveraged in MNAM decision making.
- Support can be drawn from interest groups and other governmental programs to help bridge resource limitations.
- Official Plans run on a 5-year revision cycle which allows for them to be updated and modernized to include MNAM.
For more details, and to read more about the proposed roles planners play in championing MNAM, you can find the article here: https://institute.smartprosperity.ca/sites/default/files/spmnaijune18-low-res.pdf