Jennifer Duncan and Ahmad Shahwan of the Department of Municipal Affairs attended last week’s monthly council meeting to give an update of a provincial asset management pilot project underway in the Town of Port Hawkesbury.

PORT HAWKESBURY: The Town of Port Hawkesbury has taken part in a data collection pilot project as part of a province-wide effort to support municipalities with infrastructure management.

At the Town of Port Hawkesbury’s regular monthly council meeting on May 1, representatives with the Department of Municipal Affairs gave an overview of the type of data that has been collected through the pilot program and how it can help the town keep track of its public assets.

“The town holds a significant amount of infrastructure with respect to roadways, sidewalks, curbs, shorelines, and water as a typical town would be,” said Terry Doyle, CAO for the Town of Port Hawkesbury. “Determining the condition and the priorities for repair or replacement, and having a logical and well thought-out capital plan is very important to ensure that we’re directing money in the best place.”

Doyle said the town was notified last year that Port Hawkesbury was selected as one of the pilot sites for the project. Over the past year, the Department of Municipal Affairs collected and assembled the data with the help of Opus Consulting.

The information can be used to generate spreadsheets and maps that allow town officials to view various types of infrastructure sorted by age, value, material, condition, and estimated replacement cost. Doyle said the town will soon begin the process of evaluating the data that has been collected.

“We’re right in the budget process, so we’re looking at the information for determining priorities for replacements as early as this summer,” he said.

The current data accounts for the town’s inventory ground infrastructure like storm pipes and sidewalks. In the future, Doyle said he would like to update the database with other types of assets such as buildings.

“We also want to start concentrating on accessibility in the town, and so that will include an evaluation of the current infrastructure with respect to accessibility like streetlights and curb cuts and ensuring our sidewalks are passable for people with physical impairments,” said Doyle.

Because it is a pilot program, there was no cost to the town to participate.

“It was a huge benefit to us and a huge savings to the town. We certainly considered doing this on our own like many municipalities, but being part of that pilot project was a huge benefit to us. We were able to work on the ground floor determining what we needed and we had the services of our consultants at no cost to the town,” Doyle added.