Last Thursday, the Town and MD of Pincher Creek hosted an open house to share the results of their climate risk assessment and to inform the community of climate projections and potential risks facing the region.
The goal was to share the results with locals and obtain feedback on the risks that were identified, as well as adaptation measures for those risks. Feedback will be used to help develop a climate adaptation plan for the area.
According to Tristan Walker, municipal energy project lead for Pincher Creek, the open house was a great success.
“There is a wealth of knowledge within our community, and to develop these plans to the best of their ability, I think we need to be taking advantage of the knowledge that is within the community,” he says.
The open house began with a presentation of the findings from the climate risk assessment, including high-risk climate vulnerabilities for the area and climate projections over the course of this century.
Jeff Zukiwsky of All One Sky Foundation explained how climate risks were identified, as well as the evaluation criteria and risk level for each climate risk.
From there, Zukiwsky gave the floor to Dave Sauchyn of the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative. Sauchyn presented climate projections and what they look like within the MD.
Locals posed questions during the presentation portion of the open house before sharing thoughts in more depth during an interactive session that followed.
Community members were encouraged to share their ideas and opinions, either by talking face-to-face with those involved with the assessment or by submitting written recommendations.
According to Walker, water supply shortage, wildfire smoke and wildfire were among the risks that seemed to concern people the most. In other words, anything to do with fire, flooding and drought.
David McIntyre and Monica Field were among the many area residents who attended the meeting. The pair are pleased with the town and MD’s commitment to pre-emptively addressing the climate risks identified.
“We care passionately about not only the community today, but the community tomorrow, and we’d like to see some kind of legacy planning done that really saves what we consider to be an incredible landscape at our doorstep,” McIntyre said.
“It was good and proactive for the MD and the town to be looking at how to adapt to climate change,” added Field.
“Often we’re more inclined to wait for catastrophic weather events and clean them up, rather than trying to develop ways of being more resistant to the damage.”
Like many attending the meeting, Field and McIntyre spoke with presenters and made their own suggestions on how to better adapt to climate risks moving forward.
Both expressed that wildfire and flooding are two of the main risks facing the town and MD, and the pair each had their respective views of how to handle them.
McIntyre noted how reintroducing beavers to creeks and rivers within the MD could significantly help minimize flood risk. The dams would slow the flow of water, in turn delaying and reducing flood peaks farther downstream.
“I see beavers as being colossal with respect to what they can do to bring us back into some state of health,” he said.
While Field agreed with him about beavers, she also addressed the importance of people examining their personal living situations.
“Each of us has to look at our own home and look for risks. We have to as individuals start trying to do what we can to protect our homes,” she said.
The engagement and knowledge from the public is something that the town and MD’s climate resilience team isn’t overlooking.
“The attendance was above expectations for sure, and super appreciative of everybody that came out,” Walker says.
He and his team will review the surveys, suggestions, posters and forms submitted and begin moving forward with a climate adaptation plan based on community feedback and their own research.
For more information and updates on the climate adaptation plan, be sure to visit the Town of Pincher Creek and MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 pages on Facebook, or reach out to Tristan Walker by email.