PEOPLE in British Columbia will be better protected from the impacts of wildfires, flooding and extreme heat through the actions included in the new Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy, said the Province on Monday.
The strategy includes actions across ministries supported by $513 million of investment to ensure British Columbia is prepared for climate impacts in the near term, while setting the foundation for future action.
“Last year’s extreme weather left no doubt that British Columbia is directly experiencing impacts of the climate crisis,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “We’re making record investments to recover from last year’s extreme floods and fires and adapt to future climate changes, as well as working to cut climate pollution through our CleanBC plan. We’re committed for the long-term.
“This new strategy takes targeted action now to support food security and resilient local agriculture, create better floodplain risk mapping to improve how we plan our communities, support more cultural and prescribed burning in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, and build more resilient highways and infrastructure so they can withstand future climate impacts.”
The strategy outlines a range of government actions to help people and communities prepare including:
* an expanded role for the BC Wildfire Service to provide enhanced wildfire prevention and preparedness;
* the development of a comprehensive provincial flood strategy and flood resilience plan to ensure communities are better protected from extreme flooding;
* an extreme heat preparedness plan to help people and communities stay safe during heat waves and extreme heat emergencies; and
* investments in nature-based solutions that will reduce the impacts of flooding and droughts by restoring healthy watersheds.
“Restoring the health of Kus-kus-sum watershed on K’omoks territory is critically important to live in balance with nature and prepare for the impacts of climate change, like extreme flooding and drought,” said Hegus Nicole Rempel, K’omoks First Nation.
“K’omoks First Nation is working with local partners to turn a former sawmill site into critical habitat for salmon, herring, migratory birds and other species. By removing cement, regrading natural slope and adding native plants to the area, we’re healing vital ecosystems and building greater resiliency to climate change.”
The strategy also includes investments for First Nations and local governments to increase wildfire protection through community-led FireSmart activities. Last summer, the town of Logan Lake successfully fought back the threat of wildfire at its municipal borders, thanks to the work of local firefighters and years of implementing FireSmart practices.
“Climate change has already had significant impacts on communities like Logan Lake through increased wildfires. As our efforts have shown, investing in FireSmart and preparing for wildfires ahead of time is extremely valuable and effective at reducing impacts to communities,” said Robin Smith, Mayor, Logan Lake.
“The new provincial adaptation strategy includes increased supports through FireSmart to help more local governments reduce the risks of wildfires and protect the places we call home.”
The Province said it developed the strategy based on a wide range of input, including significant feedback through two working groups and multiple engagements with Indigenous Peoples and organizations. Additional input came from the general public, local governments, academics, businesses, non-profits, youth and others.
* The Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy outlines actions to take place from 2022-25 and is supported by more than $500 million.
* The strategy is part of a broader suite of investments from Budget 2022 totalling more than $2.1 billion allocated to support people and communities recover from recent disasters and prepare for future climate impacts.
* Budget 2022 committed more than $1.2 billion to support the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, which builds on $2.3 billion in prior CleanBC investments, in order to expand and accelerate actions that will reduce climate pollution and build a cleaner, stronger economy.
To read the full Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy, visit: gov.bc.ca/climatepreparedness
New climate adaptation strategy takes action across sectors
The Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy is an ongoing and collaborative initiative reflecting the expertise and experience of many people from Indigenous governments, communities and organizations, local government, the research sector and people sharing their desire for a secure future in the face of more frequent climate change impacts.
The strategy outlines a comprehensive set of actions over the next three years with a total investment of $513 million. It includes increased investment in better floodplain mapping and developing a provincial flood strategy and flood resilience plan to make sure British Columbia is ready for increased floods. The Community Emergency Preparedness Fund includes $95 million to help First Nations and local governments improve resiliency, including managing flood risk.
The strategy provides an additional $30 million for the Heathy Watersheds Initiative for nature-based solutions that will restore and maintain watershed health and ecosystem services, such as flood and drought mitigation in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, local communities and non-profits.
It includes the recently announced plan for extreme heat events that focuses on a new heat alert and response system, and other supports for people and communities. In addition, B.C.’s ambulance system will have additional capacity to better respond to a significant increase in 911 calls during a heat emergency.
The practice of cultural and prescribed burning by working with Indigenous Peoples to reduce wildfire risks and increase ecosystem resiliency is expanding. The BC Wildfire Service plans to double the number of cultural and prescribed fire projects developed by or co-developed with First Nations by next year through a larger investment of $98 million in wildfire prevention projects and services to reduce risks. The Province continues to work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to identify responses to climate change grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing.
Homeowners and communities will have access to the FireSmart program with the information and tools they need to protect their homes and neighbourhoods through $90 million for the Community Resilience Investment Program. The strategy also invests in the Forest Enhancement Society of BC to support the mitigation of wildfire risk, including enhanced fibre recovery.
The resiliency of B.C.’s highway network will result through a nearly $300-million investment over nine years to replace and rehabilitate existing culverts so they will be able to handle extreme weather events. This includes upsizing culverts, redesigning drainage channels for future flow and reinforcing of slopes that will see greater saturation in the future.
The strategy supports expanded research, monitoring and climate-risk assessments to improve planning and ensure that accurate and up-to-date information is available to support decision-making with more than $11 million. The River Forecast Centre will increase its capacity so that it can continue to keep communities and response agencies informed and improve the response to flood hazards. Increased investments in flood mapping will support First Nations and communities to plan more effectively to avoid flood hazards in the future.
To support agricultural producers, the strategy invests $11 million in agricultural weather monitoring networks, extreme weather preparedness and water infrastructure for agriculture. It also commits to developing a new strategy to protect and revitalize B.C.’s wild salmon populations that builds on existing work. It also supports the development of an ocean acidification and hypoxia (lack of oxygen in ocean waters due to climate change) plan to support adaptation strategies for the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.