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Climate change on the agenda for city council

Climate change was on the agenda at Monday’s city council meeting in the form of several reports and presentations.

Prince George is experiencing an accelerated rate of climate change compared to the global average, which has resulted in warming trends in the winter, more extreme precipitation events, localized flooding, increased wildfire risk, and pest infestations, according to the city. Adapting to these changes is outlined in the city’s climate adaptation strategy, which was received by council. The report was developed through collaboration with several community organizations and includes several recommendations to assist Prince George in adapting to a changing climate and improving resilience of infrastructure, health and well-being and the natural environment.

Climate change is expected to affect much of the city’s infrastructure, especially the stormwater system that manages drainage and run-off. Staff have been developing an Integrated Stormwater Management Plan, to provide direction about how to preserve and enhance the overall health of the watersheds while balancing and integrating the requirements of land use planning, stormwater engineering, flood and erosion protection, and environmental protection. More than 200 action items have been identified and prioritized, totalling up to $125 million. The final outcome of this project is to have a working document that will provide the city with an action plan to ensure healthy watersheds and sustainable stormwater services, all while addressing the impact of existing development and allowing for future development and growth.

Another effect of climate change is expected to be an increased occurrence of wildfires. Administration provided council with an update on activities relating to the strategic removal of potential wildfire fuel (such as shrubs and underbrush) in three separate areas of the community: Malaspina, Broddy, and Pidherny. Nearly 90 per cent of the total project budget ($693,425) is being funded by a provincial grant; the remaining $83,800 will come from the city’s internal reserve dedicated to forest management on city lands. Council authorized administration to add the Wildfire Mitigation Fuel Removal project to the 2020-2024 Financial Plan.

Two presentations also focused on opportunities for reducing local greenhouse gas emissions:

  • FortisBC provided information on its plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, in part by creating and distributing renewable natural gas.
  • Representatives of Sustane and Canfor outlined a proposal to convert local garbage to various products, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing garbage going to the landfill.

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