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Didsbury's open spaces plan sets baseline

A total of 2,487 open space assets were identified in Didsbury, including 2,090 natural assets such as trees
didsbury baseball cropped
As part of an asset management plan for Didsbury, onsite inspections of all assets were conducted including ball diamonds at Memorial Park. File photo/MVP Staff

DIDSBURY - Town council has been given presentation on the town’s new 41-page open spaces asset management plan.

The overview came during a recent regularly scheduled council meeting, held in person and on YouTube.

In 2021, the Town of Didsbury was the recipient of a municipal assessment management program grant to fund an asset management plan for the town’s pathways, play structures, parks and other assets.

Administration utilized both international and external capacity to inventory and evaluate all open space assets in the town.

Following six months of work, administration presented the new 2023-2028 open spaces asset management plan to council on June 14.

Municipal intern Kelsey Hawkins appeared before council as a delegation.

The plan is designed to serve as a baseline for informed decision-making and ensure future sustainability of open space assets, she said.

Development of the plan involved defining all of the town’s open space assets, and collecting and categorizing all available inventory data including material, location, age, measurement, and estimated replacement costs, councillors heard.

Onsite inspections of all assets were also conducted.

Open space assets considered in the plan include benches, playgrounds, gazebos, trash cans, pathways and playing fields. 

Hawkins said the three principal plan objectives are maintaining the current level of service of all open space assets, ensuring the safety of the users of all open space assets, and establishing fiscally responsible plans to maintain and replace open space assets.

Four steps were followed in the asset management evaluation process: obtain accurate and detailed invention listing for the assets; evaluating the condition of each asst within the inventory listing; assessing the risk of failure of each asset within the listing; and preparing preventative maintenance and replacement plans for the assets.

A total of 2,487 open space assets were identified, including 2,090 natural assets such as trees, with the remaining falling into eight categories: athletics, playgrounds, landscaping, outdoor seating, perimeters, walkways, ancillary structures, and other outdoor furnishings.

Every identified asset underwent an internal and external assessment.

Preventative maintenance is an important part of asset management because it extends the asset’s useful life, avoids unexpected repair bills, and increases safety, she said.

“There is always professional oversight in any decisions or any recommendations that we bring forward,” she said. 

In concluding her remarks, she said, “We are taking good care of our stuff and we want to continue to maintain that. We want to implement preventative maintenance and replacement schedules into formal budget documents, and a lot of those items we are already doing.

“As we know asset management is a continuous operation. Assets are constantly changing. Their condition will change every year, best practices are changing, industry standards are changing, so we need to continuously update and maintain our inventory listing and we need to constantly be doing evaluations and risk assessment to make sure that these asset are safe for our users.” 

Coun. Bill Windsor commended administration for preparing the plan.

“Outstanding work,” he said.

Council accepted the delegation presentation and the plan itself as information.

The complete Open Spaces Management Plan is available for viewing on the town’s website.

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