Community Climate Action Plan
Climate Adaptation

Climate change is a real threat. As we work to limit future impacts, we must also prepare our community for what lies ahead.

Climate change is a real threat. As we work to limit future impacts, we must also prepare our community for what lies ahead.

Climate Adaptation in Squamish

We are already experiencing the effects of climate change in Squamish, ranging from wildfires to rising sea levels. This is why our community must both lower our emissions to limit future impacts of climate change (mitigation) and prepare for the irreversible changes to our climate that are already set in motion (adaptation).

Squamish is blessed with a rich natural environment surrounded by forests, ocean, mountains, and rivers. These natural features create both a desirable place to live, but also number of challenges, many of which are amplified by climate change.

Although the District of Squamish Community Climate Action Plan focuses on climate mitigation, we have been thinking about climate change adaptation, resilience, and impacts for many years. This work is embedded in a number of different plans and programs that we are following locally, such as our flood hazard and emergency management plans. Four of the main ways that we are adapting are summarized below. (Click image to view larger.)

 

 

Developing a climate change adaptation strategy

The District of Squamish commissioned a climate change adaptation strategy in 2016, the results of which were incorporated into the District of Squamish 2040 Official Community Plan. Read the "Adapting to Climate Change in Squamish: Background Report".

The strategy provides a detailed overview of climate change adaptation, identifies and prioritizes major impacts in Squamish, and outlines what is being done – and what should be done – to prepare our community for the future. You can find a summary of these impacts in the 2020 Oceanwatch report.

 

Read the climate adaptation strategy

"It’s surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth”

- Sir David Attenborough, Broadcaster and natural historian 

Planning for sea level rise and flooding

Increased precipitation, river flooding, and sea level rise are interlinked threats that we face in our community and must be addressed together.

The District of Squamish adopted an Integrated Flood Hazard Management Plan (IFHMP) in 2017. The award-winning plan outlines the District’s approach to managing sea level rise and river flooding through four main strategies: protect, accommodate, avoid, and retreat.

Part of this work includes investments in improved flood protection systems to accommodate future climate conditions. In 2021, the District plans to construct 200 metres of new sea dike in downtown Squamish that will be designed to accommodate the anticipated one-metre sea level rise. Upgrades and improvements are also underway on 20 kilometres of dike infrastructure that will provide critical flood protection for the community in anticipation of increased peak river flows and sea level rise.

The District of Squamish has also implemented a comprehensive flood policy framework that ensures that new developments being built today will be able to withstand the future climate conditions. For example, the Floodplain Bylaw manages development in consideration of sea level rise and higher peak river levels due to climate change. The bylaw also provides setbacks from dikes to ensure the District has the space necessary to raise the dikes in the future. The Official Community Plan also provides overarching flood policy and guidance, including Protection from Flood Hazard.

In 2021, Squamish will participate in the Living With Water research project, which is funded by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. The project explores how coastal communities in B.C. can plan for sea level rise while being mindful of natural coastal ecosystems, indigenous knowledge and values, and other important considerations.

Integrated Flood Hazard Management Plan

Learn more about the Integrated Flood Hazard Management Plan.

Planning for emergency events

Many of the hazards that Squamish naturally faces are made worse with climate change due to an increase in severity and frequency of major weather events. The District of Squamish is preparing to respond to these events in our community through a comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, which considers hazards related to flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, and debris flows. The Sea to Sky Multimodal Evacuation Plan (2019) also outlines strategies for evacuation taking into consideration the increasing magnitude and severity of natural hazard events in the region.

The District is investing in programs that increase the ability of neighbourhoods to come together and respond to emergencies by providing training and resources. We are also updating our Community Risk Assessment in 2021, to include climate considerations within.

Also, as part of ongoing efforts to improve resilience and disaster response, the District is relocating the Emergency Operations Centre from within the floodplain into the new Valleycliffe Fire Hall, now under construction. The building, will be the new headquarters for Squamish Fire Rescue and the Squamish Emergency Program.

 

Learn more

Expanding our wildfire resilience

Given the topography and geography of Squamish, the risk of wildfires continues to increase as the climate changes. We have already seen the impacts of severe wildfires on our community: Threats to human life, poor air quality that affects our health, and property or land damage.

The District of Squamish is working to manage wildfires in the region through planning and education, and increasing our ability to respond to them effectively. The District finalized its Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) in 2018, and has received grant funding through the Community Resilience Investment (CRI) program to realize concrete initiatives focused on education, planning, and removing materials that could fuel wildfires. The CRI program also includes the creation of a Wildfire Development Permit Area to minimize the risk to people and property from wildfire by requiring fire-resistant building materials and construction. This is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.