Big Lakes preparing climate plan

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Strategies to combat climate change in Big Lakes County will soon be presented to council.

Impacts, issues and concerns were raised at a Climate Resilience Express Workshop on Dec. 11 as part of the county’s commitment to join the Partners for Climate Resilience Program under the Federation of Canadian Municipalities last August.

“We will release an update in the near future,” communications co-ordinator Victoria Pegg states in an email Jan. 30.

Grouard Councillor Fern Welch represented council at the workshop.

“Even though the workshop included a lot of theory, it did bring to our attention that climate change is having an impact across the country, the environment in the air we breathe, the water we drink and where we grow our food,” Welch says. “These need to be protected for now and the future and impacts need to be understood and managed.”

Welch adds more work is needed on how to effectively do that.

“Not everyone agrees or understands these impacts, so there’s work to do there, too,” Welch says.

During the day-long workshop, participants discussed five components.

– Exploring local weather impacts.
– Introduction to climate science and impacts.
– Identifying future climate impacts.
– Prioritizing climate risks and opportunities.
– Action planning.

Several stakeholder groups were represented at the workshop, which was facilitated by All One Sky Foundation.

Climate change has created a rise in wildfires, snowstorms, rainfall, flooding, drought and increased strain on water resources.

“Alberta communities, including Big Lakes County, are at the forefront of these impacts and should consider taking steps now to be better prepared for the future climate conditions to ensure they continue to prosper as a desirable place to live and work for generations to come,” the workshop outline states.

By participating in the project, Big Lakes County will:

– Increase local awareness of the knowledge of potential climate changes and associated impacts on the local economy, property and infrastructure, the natural environment and the health and well-being of residents; and

– Obtain a climate-resilience action plan, including short- and long-term actions aimed to increase the county’s resilience to key climate risks and enhancing its capacity to take advantage of key opportunities.

Big Lakes County is one of several municipalities participating in the workshop planning process. Others include Mackenzie County, Spruce Grove, Bruderheim, Brazeau County, Beaver County, Black Diamond, Turner Valley, Sylvan Lake, Okotoks, Canmore and Banff.

Most of the funding for the workshop was provided by the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, established through collaboration of the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.


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