Communities become more climate-resilient

Photo of the Greeley Creek Water Plant near Revelstoke

Greeley Creek Water Plant near Revelstoke. — Photo courtesy Environmental Science & Engineering

As countries and citizens around the world discuss the latest global scientific report on climate change recently published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, communities in the Columbia Basin are already preparing thanks to their participation in the Communities Adapting to Climate Change Initiative (CACCI), spearheaded by Columbia Basin Trust (CBT).

Since 2008, CACCI has helped communities increase their resilience to climate change impacts, from offering one-day workshops to helping with year-long planning processes.

“Participating communities have taken important steps by sharing climate impacts with residents, undertaking projects that help plan for change, and considering climate change science when making decisions,” said Neil Muth, CBT President and CEO. “We applaud the communities that are planning and becoming more resilient to these changes and invite other communities to connect with us to learn more.”

The District of Sparwood, for example, has been taking action on wildfire risk reduction, emergency preparedness, water supply and flood prevention. The District has also helped local residents understand what climate change impacts and adaptation mean by piloting a community engagement and communications project last year centred around the theme “Nature Changes, We Adapt.” This project places Sparwood as a leader in engaging residents on climate impacts and adaptation at a local level.

“What we have learned is that climate resilience is about integrating considerations of future climate into everyday planning and decision making at all levels. As communities we have to start planning differently to better accommodate future weather extremes,” said Sparwood Mayor Lois Halko.

For the City of Castlegar, extreme precipitation has in the past caused significant flooding, which prompted it to undertake an engineering vulnerability assessment of its stormwater infrastructure in 2010. Today the City continues to build on that work, and is now looking at developing a master drainage plan to help prioritize infrastructure investments.

Examples of other initiatives include the City of Revelstoke’s Greeley Creek Watershed Source Protection Plan, which outlines how climate change is impacting the community's water source and how to protect it, and a recent study by the Regional District of East Kootenay on flood hazards in the region and how climate change may be affecting them.

In addition to CACCI, CBT works with a range of partners to increase awareness of local climate change impacts; provide credible, science-based information on expected changes; and support local governments, municipalities and First Nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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