VIDEO: “The District’s climate change adaptation strategy has emerged as a key foundation block for successfully implementing our Official Community Plan,” stated North Vancouver District’s Richard Boase

Solutions and Tools for Building Water-Resilient Communities

In December 2015, the Feast AND Famine Workshop addressed this over-arching question: What should we expect and what can we do to build “water-resilient communities”? The program comprised four modules that were cascading – from high-level visioning to ground-level applications. Adaptation to a changing climate was a unifying theme.

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Adaptation to a Changing Climate

Western North America may be crossing an invisible threshold into a different hydro-meteorological regime. Annual volumes of water entering and exiting regions are not necessarily changing. Instead, what is changing is how and when water arrives – it is flood and drought!

The Cowichan Valley Regional District and District of North Vancouver are incubators for water balance approaches. In Module B, Keith Lawrence and Richard Boase showcased solutions that their respective organizations are pioneering.

A noteworthy aspect of this tag-team is that Cowichan and North Vancouver represent the two forms of local government: regional and municipal. They also demonstrate that local governments can be successful because they have been given the authority to develop tailor-made solutions to local needs.

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District of North Vancouver Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

Richard Boase said he was proud to present the first public unveiling of North Vancouver’s work-in-progress Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. He explained how the District had applied a 5-step iterative process developed for local government by the Building Adaptive & Resilient Communities (BARC) Program.

Understand the Shifting Baseline Syndrome

The Shifting Baseline Syndrome concept, formulated by Dr. Daniel Pauly of UBC in 1995, provided a frame-of-reference for Richard’s presentation.

Richard Boase1_DSC_0624_120p“Dr. Pauly explained why it is that ecological standards are lowered almost imperceptibly with each new generation,” stated Richard Boase. “It results from lack of knowledge of the historical condition of the environment. The existing condition is accepted as the normal condition. It so important that we recognize this syndrome, and that each of us take steps and measures to avoid the shifting baseline.”

Link Strategy to Official Community Plan

“We are using an adaptation strategy developed around the District’s Official Community Plan (known by the acronym OCP). For a local government, everything we do is driven by the OCP. By linking our climate adaptation strategy to the OCP, this results in an enabling framework for discussion and action in the spheres of influence encompassed by the OCP. It is all linked.”

“One of our first steps was to identify policy and program gaps. We look at ways to support and inform our other long-term programs in terms of climate change adaptation. In fact, our adaptation strategy is now being found to be one of the key foundation blocks for successfully implementing our OCP.”

To Learn More:

To download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation by Richard Boase, click on District of North Vancouver Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

Dr. Daniel Pauly coined the phrase SHIFTING BASELINE SYNDROME to describe his observation that:

“Each generation of fisheries scientists accepts as a baseline that the stock size and species composition that occurred at the beginning of their careers, and uses this to evaluate changes…The result obviously is a gradual shift of the baseline…and inappropriate reference points.”

To learn more about Daniel Pauly and the application of his thinking, click on Creating the Future in British Columbia: Recognize and Address the “Shifting Baseline”.

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