Communities Adapting to Climate Change
Is your community ready for the “new normal” of a changing climate?
Our climate is changing, and we need to plan for a “new normal”. Impacts include rising sea levels in coastal areas, more extreme weather events, increased risk of flooding and forest fires, and the possibility of seasonal water shortages.
Local governments have a lead role in making our communities resilient and sustainable for the long term. West Coast Environmental Law is working with local governments and experts to support climate adaptation.
Some of our activities include:
- Developing a general resource guide to climate change adaptation for local governments. Preparing for Climate Change: An Implementation Guide for Local Governments in BC looks at the tools available, and highlights useful experiences and good practices from around the province and across Canada.
- Organizing the Green Waterfront Design Charrette to explore how waterfront neighbourhoods can be resilient to sea level rise while maintaining liveability and designing with nature.
- Supporting engagement to integrate community values and ecosystem protection into local policy development. In partnership with the Adaptation to Climate Change Team at Simon Fraser University, we organized a series of meetings with the Crescent Beach community in Surrey that gave residents the opportunity to provide informed input to coastal flood adaptation planning.
- Working with BC communities to demand that the fossil fuel industry pay its fair share of the costs associated with those climate impacts.
Some key findings from our work:
- Local governments already plan for change, and can incorporate climate change adaptation strategies into official community plans, financial and infrastructure planning, emergency response, community development and the protection of the natural environment;
- Greener communities are often more resilient communities, and measures like green infrastructure and smart planning offer significant benefits from a climate change perspective;
- Informed communities can offer valuable input to adaptation planning, including local knowledge and insight into impacts of climate change as well as possible responses; and
- Regional collaboration and cooperation is important to address challenges around capacity – e.g. modeling climate impacts – and being able to respond at the necessary scale to be effective.
To learn more about our work to find solutions for managing shorelines in the face of climate change, check out this video featuring Staff Counsel Deborah Carlson: