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B.C. strengthens actions to prepare for climate change with new strategy

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 12:41 PDT, Tue June 21, 2022

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.

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

• 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 of 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 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.

"There is no greater challenge or opportunity faced by the global community than our response to climate change,” said Tamara Vrooman, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver Airport Authority and member of the Climate Solutions Council. “(Vancouver International Airport) is making the investments now to be a net-zero airport by 2030, and supporting the decarbonization of B.C.'s aviation sector. While the transition to lower emissions is under way, we must make the kind of investments that will protect communities and families, create the right kinds of economic opportunities and strengthen partnerships so that knowledge, action, and accountability move us all forward. This plan sets out a series of government actions to create that positive future and lasting change."

The Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy is part of the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030. The roadmap is the province's plan to expand and accelerate climate action by building on B.C.'s natural advantages—abundant and clean electricity, innovative technology, and a highly skilled workforce. It sets a path for increased collaboration to build a British Columbia that works for everyone.

To read the full Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy, visit:

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