On the Ground: Tackling Climate Change, One Community at a Time

Piers Evans leads a workshop at the Clarke’s Beach Town Hall. 2020. Photo credit: Natalie Dignam
Piers Evans leads a workshop at the Clarke’s Beach Town Hall. 2020. Photo credit: Natalie Dignam

Municipal Climate Vulnerability Assessment Helps Small Towns Prep for Changing Climate

This fall, Conservation Corps NL (CCNL) is working with Brigus, Clarke’s Beach, Cupids and South River to prepare for climate change in their communities as part of a larger asset management project involving these four towns. We’re helping these towns identify what places and people are vulnerable to climate change in their communities, from pinpointing culverts that need repair to ensuring residents are able to evacuate in the event of a storm. We’re looking ahead to what problems climate change may create for these communities in the future. CCNL is helping these towns identify specific issues on the ground and creating next steps to deal with them.

Climate change might seem distant or intangible to many people. Does it really affect our neighbourhoods, towns, and cities here in NL? The short answer is, “yes!” Our infrastructure, economy, and society will all be affected by a changing climate. It’s up to all of us to think about how we can prepare for warmer, wetter, and less predictable weather.

A photo of a road in Port Rexton following Hurricane Ignor. 2010.
Photo credit: Fire and Emergency Services NL

Many on the Northeast Avalon won’t forget Snowmeggedon anytime soon. This massive snowstorm shut down the City of St. John’s for more than a week in early 2020. Some residents were trapped in their homes and relied on the kindness of neighbours, strangers, or the military to dig them out. With grocery stores shut down for an entire week, many residents realized that their friends and neighbours were not able to prepare because they lacked reliable access to food. Food insecurity once again reared its head as a major issue here in the province and this storm sparked important conversations around the vulnerability of many in our communities. These are just a few of the challenges that people faced as a result of the storm. Snowmeggdon is one example of the type of severe weather event that is predicted to become more common due to climate change.

Residents line up outside of Dominion on Lakeview Avenue in St. John’s following the historic 2020 snowstorm.
Photo credit: Natalie Dignam.

Smaller, more rural communities can face even greater challenges when it comes to preparing for climate change. Lacking the larger financial capacity and human resources of our cities and larger towns, small communities need to be proactive and strategic in seeking out resources to tackle climate risks. That’s where CCNL comes in; we’re here to provide the capacity and support for communities that already ask their staff and councils to wear many hats, and to facilitate discussions between communities to make jobs more achievable and manageable.

Coastal erosion in Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove. 2020. Photo credit: VOCM.

The most important part of this project is you! Residents or former residents of Brigus, Clarke’s Beach, Cupids and South River have the experience and knowledge to make a real difference in this project. Your observations tell us what issues we need to focus on. Have you noticed roads being washed out? Flooding at the playground? Is your community hit by more snow in recent years? Are you worried that forest fires could impact your town?

There are a number of ways you can participate in your community’s Climate Vulnerability Assessment. Join a workshop, email us, or take the online survey.

Stop by your town hall to pick up a paper survey, or add your comments to the map on display. Photo credit: Piers Evans.

Learn more about the 2020 Climate Vulnerability Workshops here. If you’re a municipality interested in the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment process, check out more information online here.

This initiative is offered through the Municipal Asset Management Program, which is delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and funded by the Government of Canada.

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