Gibsons: Utilizing Services Provided by Nature

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.

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


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.

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.

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