Sunday November 23, 2014

Asset management conference planned for Humboldt


It is a national leader.
The City of Humboldt is hosting an asset management conference June 11-15.
Since the success of an asset management pilot project from the Institute of Public Works and Engineering Australia (IPWEA) last year in Humboldt, the city has become a national leader when it comes to asset management.
“The success of the project last year went through the province,” explained Steve Brown, director of finance for Humboldt. “It turned out to be one of the most successful projects in provincial history,” said Brown.
Now that Humboldt has the connections with the Australian institute, other communities, not only in Saskatchewan but in other provinces as well, have been looking to Humboldt for guidance when it comes to asset management.
“Other communities have been asking for training,” explained Brown. “We have eight communities coming in from across the province for a three-day asset management session.”
The conference will start on June 11 with a two-day financial management workshop.
“This is the first time this financial management workshop has been held outside of Australia,” said Brown.
Also on June 11 will be a luncheon hosted by the Humboldt and District Chamber of Commerce at the Uniplex.
“(The Chamber) has created a lunch and learn session on the basis of why you want to manage your roads and sewers better,” said Brown.
Not only will local communities benefit from the luncheon, there will also be provincial representatives at the meeting.
“The MLAs are now going to it so we have got some provincial politicians going to this,” said Brown.
The last three days of the conference will focus on asset management.
“It is the third time in Saskatchewan that this training has happened and to my knowledge it will be the fourth or fifth time in North America that this training has occurred,” said Brown.  
Brown predicts there will be about 50-70 people attending the conference each day. It will be a busy week and, with the popularity of the conference, people are already asking for another.
“There is already discussion of holding another one in the fall,” said Brown. “We are doing such a good job organizing it, nobody else wants to touch it,” he laughed.
Communities from outside of Saskatchewan have stood up and taken notice of what Humboldt is doing as well.
“Ottawa and Calgary are now going to piggyback off this training that we started here in Saskatchewan,” said Brown.
He explained they will be taking the Australian trainers to Calgary for a larger conference for larger centres.
“I think it is a feather in everyone’s cap in Saskatchewan that we can (be an influence) to large communities like the City of Calgary,” said Brown. “(The pilot project) was a huge success and now we are setting trends across the country.”
The Government of Canada also showed interest in what is happening in Saskatchewan. When they wanted a presentation on asset management, Saskatchewan was the only province asked to present, said Brown.
The province is also working together with the Australia institute to bring the training to the University of Saskatchewan.
Not only are urban communities interested in the conference, but industries are starting to take notice as well.
“We have a large international industrial company that might look at sponsoring some of it,” said Brown.
He explained industries are getting involved because they know their workers either live or will be living in places like Humboldt.
And the City has also influenced the Australians.
After taking the information back from the pilot project, IPWEA modified their program based on Humboldt’s success.
“We learned a tremendous amount from them but they learned quite a bit back from us,” said Brown.



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