While natural asset management is trending upwards across Canada, the majority of local government staff and elected officials do not yet have a full understanding of the vital role nature plays in service delivery. Having a “natural assets” champion is how many communities can be introduced to NAM, however it can be difficult to advance policies if it rests on a single team member to carry the torch.
At the same time, beginning to consider natural asset management can be a catalyst for local governments to build better coordination between departments. The variety of services and benefits provided by nature — such as stormwater management, erosion mitigation, recreation, and culture — means each department will have some stake in protecting and managing nature as it relates to their own objectives.
To build out staff capacity and integrate feedback into all areas of Saskatoon’s forthcoming Natural Asset Management Framework, NAI is hosting a series of workshops where staff from all sectors can convene to understand shared priorities and approaches.
“The workshops with NAI have allowed us to better understand how natural assets fit with asset management plans in general, and how each Departments’ role fits within the City’s asset management framework”, says Dyck. “This will help ensure that important natural assets are protected and maintained into the future.”
Although these internal workshops are specific to the project in Saskatoon, the outcomes will be helpful in informing future work related to NAM. Bringing natural assets to the mainstream requires well-founded curriculums and resources for Canadian communities. This initiative serves to inform NAI of common knowledge gaps or challenges to tackle in the future.
The City of Saskatoon is located on Treaty Six Territory where First Nation and Métis peoples have occupied lands since time immemorial.