About MNAI

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 in developing leading-edge, sustainable and climate resilient infrastructure.

Local governments across Canada are faced with significant asset management challenges. Many of the services they provide—including water and wastewater, waste removal, transportation, and environmental services—depend, in large part, on engineered infrastructure assets that are in need of renewal. Meanwhile, the effects of climate change are expected to put even more strain on these assets and on local government budgets.

To provide community services in a cost effective and sustainable manner now and in to the future, local governments are looking for ways to improve management of the critical assets that supply these services.

Asset management—the process of inventorying a community’s existing assets, determining the current state of those assets, and preparing and implementing a plan to maintain or replace those assets—allows municipalities to make informed decisions regarding a community’s assets and finances.

Unfortunately, local governments lack policies to measure and manage one class of assets: natural assets. Natural assets are ecosystem features that provide, or could be restored to provide, services just like the other engineered assets, but historically have not been considered on equal footing or included in asset management plans.

What is a natural asset?

The term Municipal Natural Assets refers to the stocks of natural resources or ecosystems that contribute to the provision of one or more services required for the health, well-being, and long-term sustainability of a community and its residents.

MNAI is a not-for-profit enterprise

The founding partners of the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative are:

  • Brooke and Associates
  • David Suzuki Foundation
  • Smart Prosperity Institute
  • Town of Gibsons

Why Manage Municipal Assets?

  • Natural assets such as aquifers, forests, streams, riparian areas and foreshores can provide municipalities with vital services equivalent to those from many engineered assets.
  • Emerging evidence shows that identifying, measuring and managing natural assets as part of an overall asset management strategy can save capital and operating costs and reduce risk.
  • Local governments are finding that natural assets are resilient and adaptable to climate change. With effective monitoring,
    maintenance and rehabilitation now, natural assets can provide service and add value for decades in ways that many engineered
    assets cannot match.
  • In some communities, development cost charges may be able to support the rehabilitation of natural assets.
  • There are external funding sources to support the maintenance/rehabilitation of municipal natural assets.
  • Some natural assets serve multiple purposes. For example, parks may reduce flooding risks as well as provide recreational benefitsand can be managed to maximize several objectives.

“Green infrastructure” is a broad category that includes natural assets and designed and engineered elements that have been created to mimic natural functions and processes in the service of human interests, as depicted in the diagram.

Our Board

Stephanie Cairns

Stephanie Cairns

Treasurer

Stephanie is a senior advisor on Circular Economy and the Director of Cities and Communities and the Smart Prosperity Institute and Principal of Wrangellia Consulting in Victoria. She has worked on environmental, climate, and conservation policy with Canada’s leading environmental think tanks over the last 30 years. Stephanie also served on the boards of eight environmental NGOs.

Emanuel Machado

Emanuel Machado

Chair

Emanuel is the Chief Administrative Officer of the Town of Gibsons. He worked with communities across Canada to promote renewable energy, net-zero buildings, water strategies, social plans and sustainability frameworks. He has been recognized with numerous awards including the Arbor Vitae Award from the Province of British Columbia and the Professional Award for Innovation in local government.

Jay Ritchlin

Jay Ritchlin

VP/Secretary

Jay is Director-General for Western Canada at the David Suzuki Foundation. He has more than 15 years’ experience working on solutions to environmental challenges including open net-pen aquaculture, offshore oil and gas, marine fisheries, toxins and seafood. He holds a Biology degree from Kenyon College, Ohio.

Meet the Team

Roy Brooke

Roy Brooke

Executive Director

Roy has worked in Canada, Europe and Africa in urban sustainability, national politics, international development and humanitarian affairs. He served as Director of Sustainability for the City of Victoria from 2011 to 2013 and between 2003 and 2011 he worked for the United Nations.

Donna Chiarelli

Donna Chiarelli

Asset Management Advisor

Donna brings 15 years of experience building the capacity of local governments with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, including a strong focus on supporting innovation in asset management. Donna provides support for MNAI to participating municipalities for core asset management concepts.

Karin Lengger

Karin Lengger

Financial Officer

Karin has over 20 years of experience using numbers and systems to build organizational resilience. She ensures MNAI’s financial processes and records are accurate, valuable and useful.

Michelle Molnar

Michelle Molnar

Technical Director

Michelle is an Environmental Economist and Policy Analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation, is the author of natural capital valuations and sits on the B.C. government’s Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council. Michelle is an experienced project manager and practitioner of natural asset measurement and management.

Sara Jane O’Neill

Sara Jane O’Neill

Research Director

Sara Jane is a Senior Research Associate at Smart Prosperity Institute with experience in environmental planning, stormwater management policies, and economic tools for sustainable development. She leads key MNAI research initiatives.

Sairah Tyler

Sairah Tyler

Project Assistant

Sairah is a community planner whose work addresses major socio-economic and environmental issues including water and watersheds, climate change impacts and adaptation, low impact development, urban forests and parks and open space systems. She helps deliver all aspects of MNAI’s municipal natural asset projects.

Jeff Wilson

Jeff Wilson

Technical Support

Jeff has over 10 years of experience as an environmental economist and specializes in the valuation and accounting of services provided by natural assets.

MNAI aims to make municipal natural asset management mainstream across Canada. Reach out to us today for more information.