Climate change plan endorsed by City council

  • Mar. 19, 2014 8:23 p.m.

Climate change was top of mind for City council this week as part one of the Climate Change Adaptation Plan was endorsed.

The City began working on the plan in 2011. The purpose of the plan is to assess climate-related impacts facing the City in the future and to develop a corporate response to preparing for and adapting to climate change. The plan only focuses on corporate climate change impacts. This is the first document in the City’s history to mention climate change.

“In terms of climate change adaptation we want to see what that means – what that means for our organization – and get our heads around what the impacts of climate change are,” said Nancy Hackett, the City’s environmental initiatives supervisor.

In her presentation to council, Hackett said there is a wide scale change in the average weather over a long period of time. Over the past 100 years, Alberta has seen an increase of 1.4C in average temperatures. This is projected to increase as much as 3C by 2050.

“It’s not just about a temperature increase of a few degrees,” said Hackett. “It’s understanding what these changes means for our operations. It’s about the overall impact of that.”

She added Alberta leads the country in terms of the number of severe weather events seen each year.

“Six out of seven of the most costly recorded weather events in Canada have occurred in Alberta. Alberta is the epicentre for severe weather and for severe weather costs,” said Hackett. “We want to ensure we have the ability to provide service and continue operations when those weather events are occurring. We want to protect and adapt buildings and transportation in construction – if we know there is going to be more flooding, how do we build differently? We want to be able to protect and improve the resiliency of our green infrastructure and we want to be able to serve residents and stakeholders moving forward in the most appropriate way.”

A steering committee came up with 100 different actions broken up into five themed action areas including business continuity planning, development and planning standards, storm water design standards, parks adaptation of operations to meet eco-system pressure resulting from climate change and adaptation of operating practices and service levels.

“This plan will help us build a more resilient community and it will help us show leadership in Alberta,” said Hackett.

Councillor Paul Harris said this plan is an important one for the City.

“I’m glad we are talking about this, it was just a few years ago that we weren’t talking about climate change at all,” he said. “I’m exceptionally proud that Red Deer is leading the way in Alberta.”

Councillor Ken Johnston agreed.

“This really is a great opportunity for us as a City to take a leadership position on this. There is also an opportunity for us to spread our knowledge with the private sector and other municipalities.”

City council unanimously voted in favour of endorsing part one of the Climate Change Adaptation Plan. Councillor Buck Buchanan was absent from the meeting.

Part two of the Climate Change Adaptation Plan will provide detailed actions under each major theme as well as prioritization and implementation details. This work is expected to be completed within the next six to seven months.