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Connected approach helps City of Calgary improve natural asset management

In recent years, The City of Calgary has been focusing on processes to improve the management of their natural assets. The City has been developing a more holistic view of their natural assets and the services that use and impact their natural assets. Their goal is to build a more resilient city, and, in particular, to create an environment that is more resistant to the effects of climate change.

“Nature provides numerous social, economic, and environmental benefits. However, usually, these benefits are undervalued in municipal financial planning and reporting.” - Twyla Kowalczyk, Climate Resilience Specialist

Determining the value of natural assets is an emerging field for municipalities. With expertise in asset management, municipal processes, and environmental management, Associated is well-positioned to support and assist organizations in developing and integrating natural asset management plans into their planning and processes.

The City of Calgary engaged Associated Engineering and Green Analytics to conduct a final valuation that demonstrates the value of the services provided by natural assets. The objective of the project is to support The City in communicating the value of their natural assets that will be used to inform decision-making on land-use planning, asset management, and operations.

Green Analytics conducted the financial valuation component of the project. Associated’s team developed a unique data set to identify storage capacity in natural depression areas, which was compared to the cost of providing storage through engineered stormwater infrastructure. We initially developed this data set to support Calgary’s stormwater team in quantifying the impacts of localized flooding, primarily focused on low points along the roadway network. 

National Practice Lead, Asset Management, Owen James, tells us, “This work highlights the value that Associated brings in coordinating initiatives across disciplines and departments within The City and identifying creative ways that data can be used to achieve multiple outcomes.”

Calgary’s plan for managing their natural assets will improve the City’s resilience to the changing climate

Nature supports climate mitigation initiatives by storing carbon, as well as managing climate risks. Increased rainfall intensity, extreme temperatures and heat days, increasing runoff, and shifting eco-regions are all moderated through a healthy, resilient natural environment.

The project provides a strong foundation for more robust management of Calgary’s natural assets and demonstrates that natural infrastructure is providing quantifiable financial value. Further analysis will make an even stronger case for advancing work on natural asset management and conservation efforts.

Our key personnel on this project included Twyla Kowalczyk, Owen James, Andrew Rushworth, and Andrew Wiens.

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