Representatives from Vancouver Island municipalities and First Nations will meet with the experts this week to discuss co-ordinated planning for climate change.
City of Nanaimo councillor Ben Geselbracht is an organizer of a community resilience summit set for Friday, Nov. 6, through the Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities’ climate leadership plan steering committee.
According to a press release, close to 150 people are expected to participate in the day-long online summit to plan, as a region, for climate change.
“Local governments have to be properly resourced to deal with climate change,” said Geselbracht. “Through the collective voice of an Island and coastal community plan we can help senior levels of government support us with what we need and effectively collaborate to leverage resources across our communities.”
Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples noted in the release that smaller municipalities like hers don’t have the resources to create comprehensive climate action plans, though residents and businesses are vulnerable to the risks and hazards climate change is presenting.
A central topic of discussion at the summit will be a recent report from University of Victoria researchers that found that “nearly all communities in the VICC region are already experiencing hazards and impacts related to climate change,” and that “urgent mitigation and adaptation efforts are needed.”
The report, Territorial Analysis and Survey of Local Government Priorities for Climate Action: Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, notes that co-operation between local governments will be critical in “scaling up efforts” and identifies a need for support from senior levels of government.
Some of the climate change effects discussed in the report include wildfires, rain storms, extreme winds, drought and sea level rise.
“By coming together as an Island and coastal communities we have a better chance of meeting the challenges already facing us,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, VICC-CLP co-chairperson, in the release. “What the UVic research reveals is that rural and urban areas have more common challenges than we have differences. Climate change planning as a whole Island and coastal region makes sense.”
The VICC-CLP’s work has been supported by a grant for the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at UVic and by faculty members and students.
“This collaboration between UVic researchers and regional community leaders has helped us better understand the unique challenges and opportunities that regional-scale climate planning might offer,” said Kara Shaw, associate professor of environmental studies at UVic, in the release. “We know that the current pace and scale of climate action doesn’t match what is needed; the question is what can a regional-scale approach offer to help bridge this gap?”
She said initial research has indentified “exciting potential areas for action” and added that the resilience summit will provide a forum to build strategies toward taking that action.
VICC-CLP is working with UVic on a 2030 climate leadership plan to be presented at the next Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities convention in April 2021.