UBC Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning
Envisioning Climate Change in Kimberley
*This Project Spotlight article is about a 2008 project funded by the Foundation.
Nowadays, we often hear predictions about the effects of our choices on the environment. Climate change is a topic surrounded by its fair share of speculation and it can be difficult to determine what “climate change” means to you and the place you live.
In order to address these issues, the City of Kimberley undertook the Kimberley Climate Adaptation Project (KCAP) as part of the Columbia Basin Trust’s “Communities Adapting to Climate Change” initiative. KCAP set out to determine how climate change affects Kimberley now, and what future impacts could be. To achieve this, they worked with the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at the University of Victoria, as well as local experts and citizens, to share knowledge and learn about local climate change impacts. KCAP also worked with UBC’s Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP), using scenarios, mapping, and 3D visualizations to help explore the potential local effects of climate change in the future. The visualizations are an accessible and engaging way for citizens and community leaders to see how today’s vulnerabilities and land use decisions could affect long-term land use and community resiliency.
CALP obtained various types of environmental data such as mountain pine beetle susceptibility, snowpack modeling (including historical and projected future snowpack), fire vulnerability mapping, and flood patterns. The data indicated that climate change has made its mark on Kimberley. Over the last century, temperatures have warmed by one degree Celsius and are predicted to increase another two to three degrees by 2050. Precipitation is also on the rise, though rain is more likely than snow at lower elevations during the winter season. Peak flows for waterways have also been affected, with rivers cresting in April/May, which is a month earlier than the May/June peak flows recorded in the 1950s.
The KCAP data was integrated in mapping software and used to create the visuals. When compiled, this information allowed CALP to localize, spatialize, and visualize climate change impacts and solutions. As a result of this work, CALP and KCAP developed two future climate change scenarios: Kimberley Adapts and Low Carbon Kimberley. Kimberley Adapts is based on continuous population and economic growth, with little climate change mitigation. Current and proposed land use development plans were therefore incorporated in the scenario. Under these circumstances, climate change impacts would be extreme, requiring significant work to remediate the effects. Flood and forest fire protection would be the highest priorities.
The Low Carbon Kimberley scenario centers on sustainability with reduced greenhouse gases and energy use, as well as some adaptation. Energy would be derived from renewable sources such as solar thermal and biomass (wood) energy. Public transport features prominently with a suggested bus or light rail connection to Cranbrook and surrounding communities. Alternative construction methods such as straw-bale would be employed and local/regional food production would be a priority. Also, infill development would be prioritized over suburban subdivisions.
The final KCAP findings and recommendation, as well as CALP’s visualizations and scenarios, were presented at a community open house as a virtual and interactive tour of Kimberley and were well received by attendees. While it will take time to incorporate the suggested changes into the City’s planning and operations process, ongoing research within the community shows that the results have been positive.
“The project has been very successful and climate change adaptation and mitigation have become an important part of Kimberley’s planning and operations. The visioning process helped lay the groundwork for new initiatives, such as proposals for a solar farm and a biomass facility shared with neighbouring communities,” says Troy Pollock, Manager of Planning Services for Kimberley, “The project also contributed to the fire department’s decision to carpool to work, which they estimate has reduced their transportation emissions by 70%.”
The visualizations have helped citizens and city planners understand the threat climate change poses to Kimberley. They are being used as educational material by the City’s fire chief for the Integrated Fire & Fuel Management Committee and regional fire meetings. Also, a guidebook on Local Climate Change Visioning and Visualizations has been created by CALP for other BC communities, with funding from the Ministry of Community and Rural Development and the Climate Action Secretariat. Funding for CALP’s visualizations was provided in part through a post-doctoral grant from the Swiss National Sciences Foundation.
“Kimberley’s success and the use of visualizations to help communicate planning options related to climate change has also prompted the University of Northern BC, working with the City of Prince George, to contact CALP regarding scenario and visualization project work,” says Ellen Pond, MLArch and researcher for CALP.
Our grant to CALP for their involvement in the “Communities Adapting to Climate Change” initiative reflects our mandate to fund research and education that supports sustainable land use practices.