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Port Moody prepares plan for extreme weather

A changing climate is making weather events more extreme
0922-PoMoExtremeWeatherFile 1w
Climate change is making major weather events more extreme, and Port Moody is developing a plan to cope so its residents can stay safe.

A changing climate means Port Moody will face more extreme weather events in the future.

A draft extreme weather resilience plan presented to council on Tuesday (Sept. 20) maps out strategies to help the city and its residents get through some of the worst Mother Nature could throw at it, including:

  • coastal storms with lashing rain and wind
  • extreme cold
  • extreme heat
  • increasing frequency and severity of precipitation that could result in flooding
  • longer dry spells

Arzan Balsara, Port Moody’s sustainability and energy coordinator, told council the plan’s primary goals are to ensure the city is ready to respond to extreme weather events.

It’s also designed to provide equal access to information, resources and support for all its residents, especially those who may be marginalized, like seniors, renters, people with chronic medial conditions, visible minorities or those living in inappropriate housing.

“Actions have to reach all members of the population,” he said.

Through a series of three workshops involving more than 25 provincial and community organizations, the plan also identifies critical facilities and infrastructure that could be community lifelines during an extreme weather event. They include:

  • Inlet Fire Hall
  • Port Moody Recreation Complex
  • Pacific Coast Terminal
  • Public Safety Building
  • Heritage Woods Secondary School
  • Eagle Ridge Hospital

But, added Balsara, some of those could be vulnerable to extreme weather events themselves because of their location.

For instance, Eagle Ridge Hospital could be impacted by a wildfires brought on by extreme heat or long dry spells while the rec complex could also feel the effects of extreme heat, dry spells or increased precipitation.

Coun. Hunter Madsen said the information is sobering, and the city needs to start looking at all its development through the lens of climate change.

“These are all issues that dovetail with what we’re doing,” he said, adding design elements like awnings over sidewalks become more than just a decorative enhancement when they provide valuable shade in a heat wave.

Among the 27 actions recommended by the report to help the city adapt to the likelihood of more extreme weather events are:

  • connect with neighbourhood groups to establish “extreme weather ambassadors”
  • develop a registry of vulnerable populations
  • increase collaboration and coordination with neighbouring communities in the Tri-Cities
  • enhance extreme weather event awareness and preparedness through education of residents
  • establish a tree canopy enhancement program with a focus on area with a diminished number of trees

Balsara said the plan’s goals and actions will be reviewed and revised as part of the city’s climate action plan to be updated in 2025.

“There is a lot of work to do in upcoming years,” he said. “Bold efforts will be necessary to increase community climate resilience.”