Vancouver Island communities concerned about climate change impacts

Vancouver Island communities concerned about climate change impacts

The University of Victoria completed a climate resilience survey of 106 elected officials and staff from 38 municipalities and 10 regional districts on Vancouver Island. Saanich, Nanaimo, Victoria, and Campbell River were all represented. Vancouver Island communities are concerned about climate change impacts on weather patterns.

Screenshot from Exploring policies and priorities for creating resilience in the Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (VICC) region, Survey findings, Dr. Katya Rhodes and Katherine Pearce, Pacific Institute for Climate SOlutions, University of Victoria, August 10, 2020

The Challenges Ahead

The principal threat identified by every Every North Island respondent was wildfires.  

88% of the respondents were also worried about extreme rainfall and landslides.

The principle obstacles to addressing these issues were lack of finances, expertise, data or support from senior government. 

The Cost of Acting

All of the respondents agreed that climate change impacts are serious issues.

Only one municipality was not supportive of implementing mitigation or adaptation policies.

The others expressed concerns they would like addressed.

“We experience multiple power outages in any given year and often have road/access issues due to wind/rain storms on a yearly basis. We had a wildfire above the town 2 years ago. We live in a deep valley, surrounded by forest, on a flood plane in an earthquake and tsunami zone.” – Zeballos 

“The way climate impacts combine or accumulate means there are many impacts we can’t anticipate but will likely deal with…As our landscapes change and we lose biodiversity, we can’t predict the cascading impacts that will have on other living systems. Climate migrants and local food shortages are potential impacts we could deal with in the future. Climate change may impact trends in tourism, interface fire risks, etc” – Victoria 

 “Sea level rise has not affected us to date, but this is changing. Likelihood of pests/invasive species appearing not previously seen. Wildfire and air quality, invasive plants and animals including noxious pests, human disease, climate refuges, ecosystem collapse, food insecurity, social breakdown.” – Campbell River

Conclusion

Dr. Katya Rhodes and Katherine Pearce, co-authors of the report, concluded, “The speed with which all levels of government and community responded to [the COVID‐19] health crisis demonstrates the possibility, should the climate emergency be considered with a similar sense of urgency. There is a substantial opportunity for investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation as part of a green economic stimulus package.”

Top photo credit: A (California) wildfire by Glenn Beltz via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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