Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

Our Climate Change Adaptation Strategy will help us respond to the social, economic, and environmental impacts of climate change.

Integrating new science and regional best practices, the strategy will support and inform our other key programs and plans — including the Official Community Plan, Transportation Plan, and Parks and Open Spaces Strategic Plan — helping make our communities adaptive and resilient in the face of our changing climate.

News and updates

April 27, 2016 — Presentation to Parks and Natural Environment Committee (PNEAC)

Staff updated PNEAC on the development of the Climate Adaptation Strategy.

Learn more about PNEAC

April 21, 2016 — Presentation to regional partners

Staff presented at Metro Vancouver's Sustainability Community Breakfast meeting, which was focused on building awareness of climate change adaptation initiatives in the region, and on developing networks and partnerships.

March 9, 2016 — Attended the "BeAware" fair

Staff attended Handsworth Secondary's BeAware fair, where they talked to elementary and secondary students about climate change and how it might be affecting them, their families, and their community.

December 7, 2015 — Presentation to Council

We updated Council on the progress we've made so far in the development of the new strategy. 

View the presentation to Council

December 1, 2015 — Workshop presentation

Staff attended the "Feast AND Famine: Solutions and Tools in Response to a Changing Climate in BC" workshop, where they presented our approach to developing a climate adaptation strategy.

September, 2015 — Second ICLEI Canada award

We received a Milestone 2 award from ICLEI Canada in recognition of our work to complete the second step of their process to develop a climate adaptation strategy. You can read an overview of what actions Step 2 included, and learn more about ICLEI, in the Details tab.

June 9, 2015 — First ICLEI Canada award

We received a Milestone 1 award from ICLEI Canada in recognition of our work to complete the first step of their process to develop a climate change adaptation strategy. You can read an overview of what actions Step 1 included, and learn more about ICLEI, in the Details tab.

November, 2013 — Presentation to Council

Council was briefed on the approach we're using to develop a Climate Adaptation Strategy as part of the implementation of our Official Community Plan. There is a link to the staff report in the Documents and Resources tab.

Details

Developing a formal strategy to address climate change

To reduce the personal, financial, and environmental costs of climate change, we need to take a two-pronged approach:

1. Mitigate — Prevent future climate change from happening, by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions

2. Adapt — Become more resilient by preparing and responding to climate change

A strategy based on science and best practices

Our planning process is being guided by ICLEI's (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives) BARC program. This is a national program that focuses on community resilience and adaptation.

BARC supports communities, and helps them prepare for climate change. Other municipalities who are using BARC include:

Learn more about ICLEI and BARC

The steps we're following to create our strategy

We are following a carefully planned five-step process to develop our climate change adaptation strategy, which we will continue to update as new science becomes available.

Steps we've completed so far

We have completed the first two steps of the process, which has provided us with a solid foundation for developing the action items for our strategy. 

Step 1: Initiate (completed)

In this step, we began adaptation planning. To do this, we:

  • built an interdepartmental team
  • identified key stakeholders
  • reviewed the current science
  • identified existing District climate adaptation plans and policies

Step 2: Research (completed)

In this step, we identified priority climate change impacts specific to the District. To do this, we:

  • conducted climate research
  • identified climate change impacts
  • conducted risk and vulnerability assessments

The risk and vulnerability assessment helped us prioritize climate change impacts, which we'll use to help focus our planning efforts.

Here are the top impacts we identified:

Priority Impact Cause
1 Delayed delivery of important municipal services More staff responding to and recovering from more frequent and severe storms
2 Increased damage to public, private, and recreational property More frequent and severe fires, windstorms, invasive plants and insects, floods, erosion, landslides, droughts
3 Increased damage to infrastructure, such as buildings, park facilities, water/sewer systems More frequent and severe landslides, floods, fires, invasive plants and insects, erosion, windstorms
4 More power outages Damaged or downed power lines from severe windstorms
5 Poorer air quality More frequent and severe fires due to warmer, drier weather
6 Loss of forests/tree canopy (with increase in landslides and debris flow) More frequent and severe fires due to warmer, drier weather
7 Reduced water supply to fight fires More frequent and severe droughts due to reduced summer rain and winter snowpack
8 More heat related health impacts More frequent and severe heat waves
9 Reduced native biodiversity Significant spread of invasive plants and insects, due to warmer, drier weather
10 Decreased quality and quantity of foreshore ecosystems Increased coastal floods, erosion, saltwater intrusion, and storm surges, due to sea level rise

What's next?

With the background work now complete, we're ready to develop our strategy.

Step 3: Plan (in progress)

In this step, we will develop the actual strategy. This work will include:

  • developing actions and goals to address priority climate change impacts
  • developing actions specific to our needs
  • integrating actions into current operations and day-to-day work plans
  • preparing for ongoing review and refinement

Documents and resources

Related council documents

In November, 2013, Council was briefed on the development of a Climate Adaptation Strategy as part of the implementation of our Official Community Plan.

Related projects

The strategy will integrate climate change into many District programs and policies, including:

Learn more about climate science with these tools

The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium has created a "Plan2Adapt" tool, which we use to estimate the changes we can expect to face in the future as the planet continues to warm.

Explore the Plan2Adapt tool

​NASA's easy to understand "Global Climate Change" website provides a comprehensive review of the evidence, causes, and effects of climate change.

Visit NASA climate change website 

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions offers a series of free, interactive online courses, called "Climate Insights 101," that offer a simple, non-technical look at the science behind climate change.

Visit the Climate Insights 101 website

Learn how a municipal government can plan for the impacts of climate change, in this interactive game from the Globe & Mail newspaper.

Play the interactive climate change game

Background

We're already feeling the effects of climate change...

2015: Smoke from a summer wild fire blanketed the District

During 2014-2015, we had:

  • heavy rainfall and flooding
  • reduced reservoir levels due to limited snow
  • level three water restrictions and drought
  • record-setting summer temperatures
  • more frequent forest fires and air quality advisories

... but by 2050, things will be worse

2014: Extreme rainfall led to severe local flooding

As greenhouse gas levels continue to rise, we can expect more changes in our climate.

By 2050, we expect:

  • air temperatures will be two degrees warmer
  • summers will be drier, and winters wetter (but with less snow) 
  • extreme heat and precipitation will be more frequent
  • sea levels will be a half metre higher

The social, economic, and environmental impacts of a changing climate

As the planet continues to warm — and we experience more extremes of temperature and precipitation — our environment, our health, and even our economy, will be affected. 

Impact on North Shore residents

If you live on the North Shore, you can expect climate change to impact your quality of life in a number of ways:

  • Your personal health and safety could be compromised
  • Highly valued recreation areas will be damaged
  • The quality and quantity of our water will go down
  • There will be damage to personal property and public amenities

Impact on local governments 

District resources redirected to emergency response

Meanwhile, our changing climate will lead to unique challenges for local governments, as well:

  • It will be more difficult for us to maintain our current operations
  • Our staff priorities will be redirected to dealing with emergency response
  • Local natural hazards will be more challenging to manage
  • Our spending to maintain public assets (facilities, infrastructure, parks, and so on) will increase

Impact on the environment

Finally, climate change will alter our local environment. We can expect the loss or damage of:

  • our native biodiversity
  • our foreshore areas
  • ecosystem services (benefits provided by ecosystems that make human life possible)

What have we done about climate change so far?

We have already taken a number of steps to help us adapt to our changing climate. We have created:

  • natural hazards risk assessments
  • natural hazard management plans and implementation strategies
  • hazard and environment development permit areas
  • development standards for buildings, infrastructure, and utilities
  • long-term (40-50 year) asset management framework

Watch a brief video to learn more

It's time for a complete strategy

But while we have done significant work to help us adapt to climate change, we need an overall strategy to help us effectively coordinate all of our actions, identify current gaps in our approach, and to help us implement our Official Community Plan.

Roadmap to a sustainable future

Through our Official Community Plan (OCP) policies, we are fulfilling our community's vision of vibrant, sustainable neighbourhoods where everyone is welcomed and valued.

Our many social, environmental, and economic plans are helping us implement those policies.