MONTREAL – Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault launched the second and final phase of the national strategy for climate change adaptation in Montreal on Monday, inviting the public to express their views on the issue.
Minister Guilbeault made public consultations begin on the banks of the Rivière des Prairies, where “flooding is more and more frequent.” The government wants to establish a framework with clear targets and measures and adopt the first version of the strategy in the fall.
To make more concrete what it means to adapt to climate change, the minister pointed out that the Grand Parc de l’Ouest, which will bring together several parks surrounded by the Rivière des Prairies, is an example of nature-based solutions to adapt to climate change. and becomes more durable. When the river breaks its banks, the park, which has received a $50 million investment from the federal government, can absorb water and thus avoid financial and humanitarian disasters.
“The park helps to protect rare wetlands while helping to create a natural buffer zone to reduce the risk of flooding for communities downriver,” said Steven Guibeault.
The government’s strategy must therefore offer nature-based solutions, but also ways to transform the way we build our infrastructure.
New standards must also be integrated into the design and management of all infrastructures to make them both low carbon and extreme weather resistant.
Adapting to climate also means taking steps such as “banning flood plains home building, increasing the number of trees in urban forests to mitigate the effects of heat waves, and using data to map and manage wildfire risk,” it said. Broadcast from Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Participation of provinces and municipalities
This remarkable effort will require all levels of government to come to the table.
When asked whether he had the support of states and municipalities, Minister Guilbeault expressed his confidence.
“We have already made desks in the past, and the cooperation of the partners is very extensive,” said the Minister, “when the roof of the house leaks, we can agree that we need to fix the roof, then we do it. He can insist on what we will have for dinner”.
Canadians, community organisations, businesses and interested parties are invited to share stories online on the let’stalkadaptation.ca portal by July 15, 2022.
It is difficult to determine an exact amount
Noting that the government has already invested $3.4 billion in climate change adaptation, Minister Guilbeault noted that “the purpose of the consultation work is to try to determine what the needs will be in terms of investment,” and noted that the strategy will evolve. as experiences and climate-related disasters evolve.
On Monday morning, a senior Environment and Climate Change Canada official announced that the costs of disaster prevention and preparedness are several times lower than the costs of response and recovery. For example, a recent report by the Council of Canadian Academies shows that every dollar spent reducing the risk of residential basement flooding saves $11.
Canada should do more
Dozens of experts advising the government say Canada needs to do more to build infrastructure against the threats posed by extreme weather and help Canadians recover from them.
During the tabulation of the first phase of the strategy, five expert groups on health, economy, disaster resilience, natural infrastructure and nature-created solutions made recommendations to the Minister on areas they felt the government’s plan should focus on.
By 2030, health officials should have what they need to address climate-related health risks, including infectious diseases and mental health, the health panel said.
Experts on disaster resilience say Canada needs to do more to help when extreme weather hits.
The people of Lytton, British Columbia can confirm this. The region was devastated by a wildfire last June after experiencing the hottest temperature ever recorded in Canada. Two people died and restoration work still hasn’t started 10 months later.
Emergency Preparedness Secretary Bill Blair visited Lytton on Thursday and pledged at least $416 million in aid.
But Lytton’s rebuilding was hampered by more extreme weather conditions in particular. Last November, roads leading to the city were inundated by flooding. Winter brought Lytton its heaviest snowfall in over three decades.
The Expert Panel on Resilience said that by 2030, Canada should be able to measurably reduce the number of Canadians at risk from extreme weather conditions and restore every disaster-affected community within one year.
Lytton was not the only community affected by successive disasters. The Ottawa River’s floods in 2017 and 2019 both exceeded historic levels. Last summer, Red Lake, Ontario and several neighboring First Nations were hit by devastating wildfires for the second year in a row.
“Canada’s climate is warming twice as fast as the global average and three times faster in the North,” the government’s working document sent to the media on Monday reminds.
In the past two years, Public Safety Canada has been called in 14 times to help fight bushfires. In the previous five years, only four interventions were required.
More than 4.3 million hectares burned across Canada last summer; that’s more than 1.5 times the 10-year average of 2.6 million.
Until the 1960s, Canada recorded about 30 climate-related disasters each decade. Now over 100.