Sue Cairns, left, and Laura Sacks, right, speak during a presentation on climate change hosted in a lecture theatre at the College of the Rockies on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Trevor Crawley photo.

Expert, city officials talk climate change impacts during public info session

Local residents concerned with climate change and impacts locally and regionally got the chance to learn how municipal officials are tackling the issue during a public information session at the College of the Rockies on Tuesday night.

The event, a partnership between the Citizen’s Climate Lobby Canada – East Kootenay Chapter, the Climate Caucus, and the City of Cranbrook, featured Laura Sacks as the keynote presenter, who spoke about key global issues stemming from climate change.

Sacks, who holds degrees in geology and environmental sciences, with additional coursework on climate science, policy and sustainability, led off the presentation outlining historical climate science and using data to illustrate and extrapolate the rise in global temperature.

Sacks also spoke about solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the need to transition to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

City officials also had the chance to highlight efforts to become more energy efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while explaining how natural assets are managed.

Mike Matejka, Manager of Infrastructure Planning and Delivery, and Katelyn Pocha, Water and Wastewater Project Manager, presented on behalf o the city. Mayor Lee Pratt was in attendance, as well as councillors Ron Popoff and Norma Blissett.

An asset management framework was touted by the city, which established management policy for engineered and natural assets, such as creeks, forests and watersheds. The framework allows for the city to forecast updated infrastructure models to evaluate capacity, future growth and future impacts of climate change locally.

Additionally, the framework takes into consideration factors such as life cycles, energy costs, priorities, timelines and budgets.

Some specific projects noted by the city include the pool dehumidification project at Western Financial Place in 2017, which has allowed the municipality to reduce it’s greenhouse gas emissions by 231 tons per year and providing an annual cost savings of $40,000.

Further municipal actions and plans relating to climate change include flood mitigation and stormwater management, creek and watershed health, water conservation, wildfire interface protections, cycle and walking infrastructure and corporate energy conservation measures.

Going forward, an important project that the city is gearing up for is a master plan for drinking water quality and supply. The plan will identify current and future risks that may impact quality, quantity and supply of water, while considering future growth, demand and potential impacts of climate change.

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