Gibsons has pioneered municipal asset management by making natural assets a fundamental component of the city’s infrastructure system.

Gibsons has become the first North American city to pass a municipal asset management policy that explicitly recognizes natural assets, or “eco-assets,” as an asset class, acknowledging that eco-assets are often superior to engineered ones. The Canadian coastal city’s new Eco-Asset Strategy will help the city save money, reduce risks, and maintain healthy ecosystems. The Gibsons Aquifer is a great example. At a cost of just $28,000 annually, the aquifer provides clean drinking water in perpetuity and reduces the risk of liabilities for new water purification and storage infrastructure. By comparison, an engineered treatment plant would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The city’s foreshore is another eco-asset, which – if properly managed – will protect the waterfront from storm surges and sea level rise at a significantly lower cost than the construction and operating costs of an engineered alternative. Other natural assets include soil and forest areas providing valuable stormwater management. By granting Gibsons’ eco-assets a financial value, a flow of ecosystem services supporting human health is enabled along with vital climate change adaptation.

73% of Gibsons’ inhabitants rely on water from the city’s aquifer

The challenge

With one-meter sea level rise projected by 2100, coupled with storm surges, the coastal city of Gibsons will require measures to protect its assets and livelihoods in the foreshore area. The city has therefore innovated municipal asset management, ensuring its resilience to future change in weather conditions.


Economic Natural assets have a financial advantage over engineered assets in that they have lower operational costs, lower risks, no upfront or replacement costs, and no depreciation.

Environmental The increased habitat from preserved forests and foreshore increases biodiversity in Gibsons.

Health Abundant research demonstrates the positive mental and physical health impacts resulting from the presence of nature in urban areas.

About Gibsons

Gibsons is a coastal community of 4,200 located in southwestern British Columbia and is the main marine gateway to the Sunshine Coast. Gibsons is not accessible by road – vehicle access is by BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, a 40-minute crossing. In October 2009, the town was declared the “Most Liveable Community in the World” (under 20,000 population) at the international Livcom Awards. Endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme, the LivCom competition focuses on Best Practices for management of the local environment. In 2009 Gibsons also won an Energy & Climate Action Award for Community Planning and Development, awarded by the Community Energy Association. A major factor in this award was a new housing development, which will be heated by the first publicly owned geoexchange system in Canada.

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