Name: Blaine Parkin
Title: Director of Corporate Asset Management
Company: City of Barrie, Canada
Tell us about yourself.
I’ve been working with the City of Barrie (City) for almost
eight years. Five years ago, we embarked on an asset management
journey and prepared an organisation-wide plan for all city-owned
assets. We developed a strategy and implementation plan, and that’s
when we engaged GHD to assist us with the initial policy, business
framework and procedures. We are now two years into the
implementation and it is progressing well. We are a small group,
but we coordinate all the asset management activities across the
City, as well as the capital planning and capital budgeting
What prompted the City to turn to asset management for
One of the biggest challenges we face is trying to balance the
large demand for our services with a very small supply, and spread
that small supply as best as we can. We realised we needed better
knowledge to allocate the limited capital funds we have to the
right projects, while at the same time sustaining service levels
across the City. Asset management was the answer.
Two years on, what are the outcomes?
By far the biggest outcome is that we have made sound decisions
to deliver the right projects. The rationale behind our decision
making is sound because all those decisions are based on good
analysis and accurate data. As a result, we have improved the
accountability and transparency we provide to our residents. After
all, it’s their tax dollars that fund our salaries and determine
the work that we’re recommending. We want to ensure that those tax
dollars are utilised in the most efficient way they can be, and
that’s why our asset management approach is so valuable – it gives
us the confidence we need to make critical decisions.
What's the key to the City's success?
We have been extremely focused on our asset management
activities and managed early on to get organisation-wide support
for our objectives. Municipalities tend to be very siloed, so at
the onset we worked closely with GHD to communicate to our people
that we are all on one side, working together towards a common goal
to provide the best service we can to our constituents. The second
key to our success is that we have aligned our business planning to
our capital planning processes. This is a very service-based
approach that begins and ends with the community in mind, and
that's why we've been so successful.
What's the future direction of the project?
Well, the ultimate goal for us is to ensure that everything is
managed in the most efficient and effective way possible. In
getting there, we have some work to do on the data management side
and also around some of our business processes. We also need to
continue working towards tying the different levels of our asset
management approaches together. That is, ensuring that at an
operation level, we're marching in the same direction as the
What's your tip for working with consultants such as
Be as open and honest as you can and approach it as a
partnership. The true benefit and real value that the City has
derived from working with GHD is that we’ve partnered together to
achieve a common goal. Two years on, GHD has a deep understanding
of our business. The team is familiar with our people and
processes, but more importantly they understand our challenges,
strengths, and weaknesses. On the flip side, we can leverage GHD’s
specialist knowledge in asset management. This partnership approach
with GHD has served us well.
What's next on your agenda?
I certainly see myself continuing on and advancing our asset
management practices for the City. We’ve come a long way, but we
still have a fair bit of work to do. We have assembled a tremendous
team and their achievements are shining through. They see that
they’re making a difference and are committed to advancing our
asset efforts. That's what the future holds at this point.