B.C. strengthens actions to prepare for climate change with new strategy (flickr.com)

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Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy

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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.