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Nelson Council Begins Planning for Extreme Weather

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
September 12th, 2012

On the assumption that the number of extreme weather events will continue to increase as a result of climate change, City Council intends to start planning for them.

“The downtown flooding in July was a prompt to get moving on this,” Councillor Donna Macdonald told The Nelson Daily. “It doesn’t appear that we, as a global community, are prepared to do anything about the causes of climate change so we have to look at how to mitigate its effects.”

At its September 10 meeting, council decided to send councillors and staff to two workshops designed to help them respond to climate change related weather crises.

Scanning and Planning for Climate Resiliency, a one-day workshop, is part of the Columbia Basin Trust’s (CBT’s) Communities Adapting to Climate Change Initiative (CACCI). At the workshop, city staff and elected officials will carry out a structured scan of the community and begin to assess and plan for potential climate change impacts. CACCI staff has already conducted similar workshops in Kimberley, Elkford, Rossland, Castlegar and Kaslo/Area D. The session in Nelson will take place sometime this fall.

The Climate Resilient Infrastructure Workshop, a two-day workshop to be delivered by Engineers Canada and hosted by the City of Castlegar on November 8-9th 2012, is more technical and is aimed at public works managers, engineers, planning staff and elected officials interested in learning more about processes and tools that can be used to assess climate related risks.

Macdonald says water will be high on Nelson’s list, and the goal will be to develop a strategy to control future flash flooding. “Then we can make a budget and start planning for it.”

Macdonald said the city needs to find ways of intercepting water before it reaches the downtown area.

Nelson’s storm drains could not handle the July flash flood, and Nelson’s steep streets sent torrents of water into the downtown and into low-lying areas such as the intersection of Front and Hall Streets. Storm water built up to the point that it was flowing out of manholes. It caused a large sinkhole in Chatham Street and flooded basements in various parts of the city.

“There are other threats we should be planning for too,” said Macdonald, “like potable water supply and wildfires. There may be even more, but we will find out when we do the scan.”

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