“We’ve put out our new Facebook page and an introductory letter to the community in the Tideline. We’re really trying to get the ball going because we’ve done a lot of preliminary research and organizing behind the scenes, but now we want to get it out that we are working on this plan,” said spokesperson Ashley Zarbatany.
“We’re looking to partner with different organizations. We’re going to be reaching out to stakeholders and rights holders and we are also looking for volunteers for our data collections team.”
A Rudimentary Resiliency report
They have compiled a rudimentary resiliency report that highlights how Cortes Island will be impacted as the climate changes.
There will be less rain from March until October/November, which increases the probability of drought and also wildfires. At the same time, there will be more rain during the winter and some parts of the island may experience flooding. As sea levels rise, there could be storm surges during king tides.
Sea Level Rise
The Strathcona Regional District is also concerned about sea level rise applied for a grant to model the potential impact of future sea level rise at Cortes Island locations like Smelt Bay, Mansons Landing, Hank’s Beach, Gnat Park and Moon Park.
“The official numbers and predictions that the BC government has is lagging behind what recent science has been saying. According to the province, we are facing a sea level rise of one metre by the end of this century. Climate Scientist Ruth Waldick, from Salt Spring Island, says we have to prepare for a sea level rise of one metre by 2050 and closer to two or three metres by the end of century, based on the current patterns of Arctic ice melt,” said Zarbatany.
The potential for wildfire
As the dry season grows longer, the potential for large wildfires also increases.
“We need to do everything we can to equip our fire department with the resources they need to nip fires in the bud and also to FireSmart properties and come up with a good fire mitigation plan, ” said Zarbatany.
She was particularly concerned about the island’s forests “one of our most important carbon sink assets, that we need to protect.”
“Ruth was saying that in terms of carbon emissions, 11 hectares of burnt forest is the equivalent of 800 round trips to Mexico,. There is a lot of information out there about how important our forests are as carbon sinks, but we know they are important, and we cannot afford to have them burn down,” said Zarbatany.
The information Cortes CPR seeks
Cortes CPR wants to nail down the maximum amount of carbon emissions that could be released if a wildfire swept the island.
How much propane do Cortes Islanders use?
How much gas do recreational boaters use?
“The really big one is solidifying the data on home heating. We know that most homes on Cortes are heated by wood stoves and that one cord of wood burned is the equivalent of one ton of carbon. We’ve identified that as our main source of emissions and want to do everything we can to remedy that,” said Zarbatany.
Solutions to Cortes Island’s heating problems
There are alternate ways to heat Cortes Island’s homes.
“Better building design and energy efficient buildings can drastically cut heating costs and are good for your health,” said Zarbatany. “Heat pumps are really great and we’d like to organize bulk purchases.”
Cortes Island’s Climate action Pan
Zarbatany is hoping that Cortes Island’s Climate Action Plan will be finished by this fall, but admits this may be too ambitious.
“Step one is to get the data solidified. Then go into a series of workshops and get community feedback,” she said. “We need everyone to participate in order for it to become a community determined carbon budget. There will be options for different carbon mitigation solutions and people can choose what their priorities are.”
Several potential solutions will be presented and Cortes CPR wants to include specific data on what each one offers.
“People can decide collectively by choosing which ones they want to prioritize. That information will all be aggregated together to come up with a democratically determined carbon budget emissions reduction budget for our island,” said Zarbatany. “We are going to take the results of that and put it into a plan with our key priorities focusing on actionable items that we can put into place right away. “
“When we have determined the will of the community, we can take that to different organizations and foundations and say this is what the community wants.”
Want to join the team? Or find out more?
Email Ashley at CortesCPR@gmail.com
Links of Interest:
- (Cortes Currents) A Climate Action Plan for Cortes Island
- (Campbell River Mirror) Cortes Islanders draft climate adaptation plan
- (Tideline) Intro letter for Cortes CPR
- (Cortes CPR) Sign up for volunteers and a newsletter
- Cortes CPR Facebook page
- (Cortes CPR email) CortesCPR@gmail.com
- (Cortes Currents) articles about the potential for a mega-sized drought in BC
- (Cortes Currents) articles about wildfires and preparations for wildfires on Cortes Island
- (Cortes Currents) articles about wildfires in BC
- (Cortes Currents) articles about smoke from wildfires
- (Cortes Currents) articles about wood smoke
- (Cortes Currents) articles about sea level rise on Cortes Island
- (Cortes Currents) articles about sea level rise in Campbell River
- (Cortes Currents) articles about sea level rising
- (Gov of BC) Sea level Rise Adaption Primer
- (Global Water Institute) Ruth Waldick
Top photo credit: Cortes Island forest – Roy L Hales photo
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