Municipal Natural Assets Planning Initiative, British Columbia
-- Municipal Natural Assets Initiative
It's not an entirely new approach. Communities, starting with Seattle, are using the concept of "low impact development" and "green infrastructure strategies" to capture and "treat" stormwater naturally, rather than to rely solely on an expensive system of storm drains, piping, and expensive water treatment.
Mostly, this complements traditional approaches, and cities are turning to it in order to reduce the cost of compliance with newer more comprehensive and restrictive environmental requirements including the discharge of stormwaters into "natural waters" like rivers and lakes.
-- MS4 Permitting Guide, National Association of Clean Water Agencies
Other communities are doing more in terms of valuing the urban tree canopy and forest. And the value of natural assets like lakes and rivers as sources of drinking water but also as places for recreation.
The "Natural Assets Initiative" puts all of these kinds of initiatives into one framework. From the website:
The Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI) is changing the way municipalities deliver everyday services, increasing the quality and resilience of infrastructure at lower costs and reduced risk.
The MNAI team provides scientific, economic and municipal expertise to support and guide local governments in identifying, valuing and accounting for natural assets in their financial planning and asset management programs and developing leading-edge, sustainable and climate resilient infrastructure.
Hat tip to The Tyee, an alternative newspaper serving Vancouver, BC, for reporting on the initiative, "New Model Helps Cities Value Assets, Like Wetlands, as Infrastructure."
This approach needs to be integrated into capital budgeting and planning systems, a la the point made in the 2015 entry, "Town-City Management: 'We are all asset managers now'."