What can be done? Ideas and Suggestions for Preparing and Adapting

Municipal Governments

Municipal governments (elected officials and staff) have a crucial leadership role to play in adapting to and preparing for climate change and flooding in the Tantramar Region. Here are some things that municipal leaders should do:

  • Create a community adaptation plan
  • Change land use zoning to minimize residential, commercial and municipal exposure to flood risks (eg. do not let new development take place in flood zones)
  • Lobby government to increase the height of dykes as well as offer incentives for the use of renewable energy sources, and other climate change mitigation
  • Relocate highly vulnerable residents and businesses (using a voluntary, long-term process including tax incentives, planning policies, land use plans, etc.)
  • Move community assets out of flood prone areas (eg. Sackville sewage pond)
  • Build storm surge barriers
  • Support the removal of certain dykes for salt marsh restoration
  • Develop a “green corridor” where wetland areas are allowed to develop to naturally absorb flood water and wave energy
  • Regularly update residents with the latest climate change research and plans
  • Create warning systems to alert residents of imminent flooding
  • Take legal responsibility (municipalities could have legal responsibilities for damages incurred from flooding if failing to take reasonable measures to prepare for it, such as protecting water, wastewater, or other municipal infrastructure)

 

“One of the keys to success for communities, in the thousands of years that humans have created them, is our ability to learn, adapt and survive. For many of us who have been working on climate change and community development for a long time, the experiences are very encouraging. We discover that our communities already have many resources to build upon: inspiring local leaders; traditional wisdom, history and stories that guide us; and, a resiliency of spirit that maintains hope.”

Margaret Tusz-King, Sackville Town Councillor

 

Community Leaders

Community leaders in the Tantramar Region are individuals and organizations who lead change. They can be local experts, environmental groups, other non-governmental organizations, and leaders or representatives in the Local Service Districts. Many of these leaders are already taking action on climate change adaptation in our region. Here are some of the things they are currently doing and could do in the future:

  • Bring stakeholders together to create a coordinated adaptation plan for Tantramar (a plan was developed in January 2013 and a working group has been established).
  • Lobby governments (local, provincial and federal) to make climate change adaptation a priority for Tantramar.
  • Lobby governments (local, provincial and federal) to offer incentives for the use of renewable energy sources, and other climate change mitigation.
  • Regularly update residents with the latest climate change research and projects they, as leaders and experts, are working on.
  • Raise awareness and educate the public through a variety of avenues such as Sackville’s Climate Change Week in March 2013.

Community leaders and experts working on cimate change adaptation in Sackville, NB

 

Planners

Planners also have an important role to play in enabling municipalities and residents to adapt to climate change. Below is a list of tools, actions and ideas for planners in New Brunswick to use to prepare for climate change.

Regional Service Commissions

The newly created Commissions are responsible for the development of a regional plan, the aim of which is to better coordinate and manage development of land use within each of the 12 commission regions. More specifically, the Regional Plans will focus on strategies that foster sustainable development practices, that encourage coordinated development between communities, that influence and guide the location of significant infrastructure (e.g. major roadways, facilities, trails), and that enhance coordination of commercial/industrial development.

The Tantramar Region is now part of the South East Regional Planning Commission.

 

Future Regional Plan

A regional plan for the South East Regional Planning Commission (including Sackville, Port Elgin, Dorchester, Memramcook and rural areas in between) is set to be developed between 2014 and 2018.

A Regional Plan can be used to develop a shared infrastructure strategy within a region containing several nearby municipalities. These strategies can help to make water, transportation and energy infrastructure systems more efficient and cost-effective.

A Regional Plan can be used to control growth across a large region and ensure that urban growth is occurring in ideal areas while also ensuring that other areas are being protected from development.

As part of a Land Use Strategy, Regional Plans can identify agricultural lands, which should be protected from development and the sprawl of nearby urban centres.

 

Municipal Plans

An appropriate location for a municipality to clearly state that minimizing and/or modifying development in flood prone areas is a priority.

Municipal plans for Sackville (2009), Dorchester (2012) and Port Elgin (2001) can be found here: http://www.tantramarplanning.ca/partners.html.

 

Rural Plans

The equivalent of a municipal plan for less populated areas.

Rural Plans exist in some of the province’s rural areas; however, these are not adopted in any kind of systematic way throughout the province.

A rural plan for Tantramar can be found at http://www.tantramarplanning.ca/partners/unincorporated.html

Memramcook’s Rural Plan can be found at: http://www.cabbpc.ca/en/village-of-memramcook-maps

 

Zoning By-laws

(found in both Municipal and Rural Plans)

Create “Flood Risk Zones” which are subject to flood proofing designs (height requirements, setback requirements, etc.) and including these in a zoning bylaw can help minimize damages caused by flooding, storms and rising sea levels to buildings in flood prone areas. Zoning by-laws can also include maintaining a certain percentage of vegetation cover on newly developed land; reducing asphalt and other sealed surfaces, and planting trees.

 

Building By-laws

(found in both Municipal and Rural Plans)

Building by-laws that stipulate the use of green energy and other technologies can be one climate change mitigation option.

 

Subdivision By-laws

By restricting the types of subdivisions that can be made in coastal areas we can prevent future development in vulnerable areas.

 

The Coastal Areas Protection Policy for New Brunswick

This is a guide for implementing development practices in coastal regions.

 

Information for planners was based on the following study:

Planning for Sustainability in New Brunswick

Fox, Michael and Daigle, Marcel (2012)

http://atlanticadaptation.ca/node/286

 

Dyke Managers

The dykes that surround Sackville and border the Bay of Fundy throughout the Tantramar Region are managed by the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries. They have a limited budget to maintain and improve the dyke system. Below are adaptation options that dyke managers are currently working on:

  • Build the dykes higher to combat breaches and over-topping by storm surges
  • Vegetate exposed sections of the dyke to decrease erosion and reinforce weak spots
  • Prioritize particular sections of dyke to protect critical properties and assets

A span of dykes in Tantramar

 

“In an area like Sackville, where mitigation, in terms of dyke repair is still possible, the reduction of potential damage should be a top priority.”

Mel Jellett, Mount Allison University

 

EMO Coordinators

Emergency Measures Organizations (EMOs) across Tantramar continue to work on response plans to climate change related disasters such as flooding.

They have important roles to play in helping the region respond to direct impacts of climate change.

They currently:

Offer emergency response services

Update emergency response plans regularly to adjust to updated information and forecasts

Plan hypothetical emergency exercises on a variety of climate change related crisis such as floods, hurricanes, etc. with the use of sand tables, table top activities, and field exercises

Educate the public about emergency response plans, and communicating steps they can take to protect their own property

Are available to answer questions and concerns from residents

Provide materials to help residents plan for emergencies (such as what to put in a 72 Hour Emergency kit)

Are training to use the Sentinel Incident Management Suite which includes emergency preparedness software, an integrated command console, and a web-based public warning system (using email, text messaging and phone broadcasting). Find out more at http://www.sentinelsystems.ca/.

 

Did you know?

You can buy a Red Cross 72 Hour Emergency Kit on their website.

red cross

Red Cross 72 Hour Emergency Kit

Residents

This section has some examples of actions that residents can take to adapt to a changing climate, such as how to flood-proof your house, what to put in an emergency kit, what to do in the event of an emergency and other ideas.

 

Did you know?

Even if your home is not in the flood plain, you may still be impacted by a flood in the following ways:

  • Flooded or washed out roads may make it hard to get around and slow emergency response.
  • Damage to municipal buildings and vital services.
  • Undrinkable water supply (because of increased risk of saltwater and other types of contamination, as well as damage to pipes and other infrastructure).
  • Risk of contamination with wastewater and agricultural chemicals released from flooding.
  • Power outages.
  • Make sure you have a Family Flood Plan.You can find templates online at places like http://focusonfloods.org/flood-plans  or  http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.

 

Flood-Proofing your Home

Find out if your property is at risk from flooding and if so, take the following steps now to protect it from damage:

  • Avoid carpets in basements or ground floors. Ceramic tiles are more resilient.
  • Raise electrical sockets to at least 1 m above floor level.
  • Raise electrical panel above flood line.
  • Fit non-return valves to floor drains (also called back-flow valves).
  • Flood proof lower walls with liquid membranes, polymer/cement coatings, asphalt or sheet membranes, etc.
  • Improve the flood resistance of your windows and doors (ensuring the seal is tight, fix cracks, etc).
  • Ensure the land around your home slopes down and away from your house.
  • Position eave troughs and downspouts away from your house.
  • Build rain gardens to catch runoff and let it absorb into the ground naturally and away from your foundation.
  • Have materials to build temporary defenses on hand so you are ready for a flood (sand bags, plywood, plastic sheeting, sand, nails, hammer, shovel, bricks, blocks of wood, a saw, etc.).
  • Store important documents and sentimental items upstairs (e.g. certificates, diplomas, birth certificates, passports, wills, photographs, property ownership documents, mortgage documents) or on high shelves, possibly in a fire and water proof safe, and certainly not in the basement.
  • Make an inventory of your household contents, including digital photos of the main items (useful if you have an insurance claim).
  • Have a 72 Hour Emergency Kit
  • Have a Household Flood Emergency Plan

 

What to Have in your Flood Emergency Kit

  • Copy of your address book with important phone numbers (friends and family, doctors, hospital, insurance company, etc.)
  • Flashlight, wind-up radio
  • Warm and waterproof clothes, rubber gloves, rubber boots
  • First aid kit, multipurpose tool, whistle, keys, rain gear, and blankets or sleeping bags, towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for sanitation
  • General emergency supplies such as a 3-day supply of water and non-perishable food, can opener, a cell phone with a charger, whistle, cash, medication, glasses, infant formula and diapers, bleach (to be used as a disinfectant with water and a medicine dropper), fire extinguisher, matches in a waterproof container, feminine and personal hygiene products, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, towels, paper and pencil
  • A list of special or sentimental items and where they are so you can move them to safety quickly if there is a flood
  • A list of gas and electricity shut offs and when to turn them off
  • Copies of personal documents (e.g., insurance policies, identification, bank account information, social insurance numbers, medicare numbers, stored in a waterproof container)
  • A list of essentials you will have to bring if you are evacuated

Did you know?

Homeowners in Canada cannot buy insurance coverage for damages caused by overland flooding, including flooding from rivers, storm surges, tides, and sea level rise. Erosion caused by overland flooding, including coastal erosion is not covered either. Flood coverage is available for businesses and vehicles though. Check with your insurance company for more information.

Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada

 

What to Do in the Event of a Flood Emergency

  • Follow your Household Flood Emergency Plan
  • Get out your 72 Hour Emergency Kit
  • Know where and how to shut off your home’s electricity, gas and water
  • Move your car to higher ground, if possible
  • Move other items outside to higher ground (e.g. lawn mowers, fuel, etc)
  • Weigh down manhole covers so they don’t come lose
  • Close off flow valves from propane tanks, etc.
  • Unplug outdoor electrical equipment
  • Sandbag around houses and sheds
  • Harvest ripened crops (depending on how much time there is!)
  • Prepare to evacuate your home if necessary

 

Other Climate Change Impacts to Prepare For

The New Brunswick Climate Change Secretariat suggests that New Brunswickers take the following actions in preparing for climate change related impacts:

Wind Storms

  • Check your house over for vulnerability to high winds and driving rain.
  • Renew and repair your roof if it is in poor condition, replace loose shingles or other roofing materials.
  • Renew or replace windows in poor condition.
  • Repair weak or unstable brickwork especially chimneys
  • Remove or prune large trees. Branches in poor condition may threaten your property if brought down in a storm.

 

Rainstorms and Freeze/Thaw Periods

  • Check for poor drainage around your house, damaged or blocked culverts or cracked foundations, improve via landscaping and grading, installing drains and gullies, and diverting surface water away from house foundations.
  • If you have a sump pump, check it regularly and consider a generator to maintain protection during power outages.
  • Consider driveway and parking area surfaces that allow water infiltration, as opposed to asphalt.
  • Build and plant rain gardens (that will naturally absorb runoff), install water barrels.

 

Heat and Drought

  • Plant a diverse range of plants for use in landscaping, use deep-rooted perennials, and avoid those that require extra watering.
  • Promote some shade of south facing window areas using annual or deciduous plants such as trees, vines, or install shade awnings, shutters, sails or blinds.
  • Use lots of mulch on any cultivated areas to reduce the need for watering.

 

Reduced Water Supply

  • Install water-saving devices such as dual or low-flush toilets, tap aerators, and low flow shower heads.
  • Upgrade your washing machine to a front-loader or high-efficiency model, wash full loads only.
  • Wash cars using a bucket, not a hose.

 

Did you know?

Preserving Natural Landscapes Helps Adapt to Climate Change

Wetlands absorb water run off, buffer floods and filter pollutants. In addition they allow rainwater to slowly seep into the ground and replenish groundwater. Forests reduce pollutants from the air and provide shade to help keep temperatures lower. Forests also slow the runoff of water, reducing soil erosion and flooding. Property owners can choose to plant trees, protect wetlands, and minimize impermeable surfaces (driveways, patios) to help slow down water run-off and reduce flooding.

Source: CPAWS, 2009

 

The information to help you prepare for flooding and climate change came from:

New Brunswick’s Climate Change Secretariat

www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/elg/environment/content/climate_change.htm

Tantramar Dyke Risk Project: The Use of Visualizations to Inspire Action

Roness, Lori Ann and Lieske, David. (2012)

http://atlanticadaptation.ca/node/306

Climate Change and Natural Areas Fact Sheet #5

New Brunswick Communities in a Changing Climate

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (2009)

http://cpawsnb.org/images/upload/Climate_Change_5_Communities.pdf

 

Farmers

Farmers in the Tantramar Region face a number of challenges, but also opportunities when facing climate change. Below is a list of ideas to address the challenges and make the most of opportunities.

Crop Rotation and Soil Conservation

  • Many farmers in the region currently use some form of chemical pesticides and herbicides, which is not uncommon in conventional farming. But more and more chemicals may be needed to fight the forecasted increase in pests and disease in the future. This will result in the need for more and more fertilizer, lime, etc.
  • Instead, a more adaptive farming practice is to use a crop rotation or soil conservation strategy that benefits the farmland and can also cost less than conventional practices. These might include:
  • Crop rotation
  • Winter cover crops
  • Plowing down green crops
  • Rotational grazing
  • Windbreaks or shelterbelts

 

Diversification

  • As the climate changes, pests and disease will play an increasing role in the need for diversification on the farm.
  • Crops and livestock may need to be altered in order to adapt to local climate changes.
  • New infrastructure may be required to regulate temperatures in farm buildings that hold animals or food, etc.

 

Information for farmers is based on the following study:

Agricultural Adaptation Strategy for the Tantramar Region

By Mel Jellett (2011) http://atlanticadaptation.ca/node/282

 

How Farmers Can Prepare for a Flood Emergency

Perform regular safety checks around the farm

Prepare fencing systems to ensure animals can have access to high areas

Install a hand pump and other measures so your livestock has access to fresh water

Identify alternative power and water sources

Secure items that can become floating projectiles

Label and deal with hazardous material

Write down important phone numbers, such as veterinarians, animal care and control, Department of Agriculture contacts

Source: Roness and Lieske, 2012

 

Educators

Educators, whether they are public school teachers, community leaders, camp counselors, etc., can teach children and youth about climate change, the impacts it may have, and how to prepare and adapt. Children are tomorrow’s leaders and the ones who have the most to lose as climate change impacts grow in severity. Here are some ideas for teaching about climate change.

 

Glass Jar Greenhouse Effect

Get two thermometers, place one on a sunny windowsill, place the other in a glass jar with the lid on and place it on the windowsill.

Discussion: Which thermometer will read a higher temperature and why?

 

Visit the Dykes

Take a class trip, summer camp outing or community carpool out to the dykes.

Discussion: What do you see? What is behind the dyke? Where is the tide? How high are the dykes?

 

Visit a Saltmarsh Restoration Project

Visit a saltmarsh restoration project in action by Fort Beausejour.

Discussion: What do you see? What is a salt marsh? How can salt marshes adapt to climate change?

 

Run a Mock Town Council Meeting

Have students assume the roles of town councillors and work through climate change adaptation planning in your community.

Discussion: What could be impacted by a flood? How can we prepare? Should our town relocate infrastructure out of high risk flood areas? How would we do that? How do we make room for all of this in our budget?

 

Find more great ideas on the internet.

Check out these links!

http://cool.greenlearning.ca/curriculum/

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/connecting-youth-with-nature/

http://www.greenteacher.com/tacc.html