Thirty-six communities, including First Nations and local governments, throughout B.C. will receive provincial funding to help prepare for extreme heat and keep people safe.
Almost $1.9 million in funding from the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF) will help communities implement extreme heat projects and strategies, such as extreme heat risk mapping, risk assessments, extreme heat response plans and climate adaptation planning.
“Given the ongoing effects of climate change in B.C. and around the world, we need to ensure that we’re prepared to respond to extreme heat events now and in the future,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General and Minister Responsible for Emergency Management BC. “This new funding will be critical in supporting communities to develop their own heat plans and to help protect people, the local environment and local economy from the risks posed by extreme heat.”
CEPF is an important part of the Province’s Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy, and complements the BC Heat Alert and Response System (BC HARS) that launched this year. The $189-million fund is administered through the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) and supports programs that strengthen the resilience of First Nations and local governments to prepare for and respond to natural disasters and climate change.
BC HARS helps ensure people, First Nations and local governments have the tools they need to stay safe during extreme heat. In the event of a heat warning or extreme heat emergency, the provincial government and communities will take appropriate actions based on their individual heat plans and processes.
“We know that heat events will continue to happen more often, so we are taking action to help our communities get prepared and have the necessary resources to deal with these extreme situations,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “Preparing for and adapting to extreme heat is now a fundamental part of public safety in B.C., and this funding will help ensure communities across the Province are climate ready.”
CEPF is a suite of programs divided into several funding streams, which includes public notification and evacuation planning, emergency support services, and disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation, which includes flood-risk reduction.
Since 2017, First Nations and local governments have received more than $50.8 million through CEPF for more than 1,000 projects that help communities mitigate and prepare for disasters and climate-related emergencies.
The Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy is supported by more than $500 million in Budget 2022 to help people and communities throughout British Columbia prepare for climate change effects in the near term, while setting the foundation for future action.
Mark Pendergraft, board chair, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) –
“Extreme heat is a life-and-death emergency for some of the most vulnerable members of our communities and can impact the lives of all residents. The Community Emergency Preparedness Funding is critical to match the growing frequency and intensity of extreme heat emergencies in our region. As a regional district working with neighbouring partners, smart, strategic and well-planned management of these events is important for our long-term climate security, safety and well-being. CEPF allows the RDOS to get ahead of the next emergency and boost strategic capacity to deliver improved services to people when and where they are most in need. RDOS staff are very busy with emergency response work, due to our changing climate, and UBCM support makes emergency planning more strategic, creating a more resilient and better-prepared region.”
Jack Froese, mayor, Township of Langley –
“With extreme heat events becoming more common due to climate change, emergency preparedness and planning is essential to our community. During these events, parks often provide refuge compared to indoor, non-air-conditioned environments. This funding will provide recommendations to improve Township of Langley parks to help those in our community when they need it most.”
For more information about the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, visit the Union of BC Municipalities’ website: https://www.ubcm.ca/funding-programs/local-government-program-services/community-emergency-preparedness-fund
For more information about the BC Heat Alert and Response System: bccdc.ca/extremeheat
PreparedBC’s Heat Preparedness Guide: www.preparedbc.ca/extremeheat
Learn more about the Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy: www.gov.bc.ca/BC-Adapts
A backgrounder follows.