April 12th, 2024

By Lethbridge Herald on October 21, 2023.

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The town and municipal district of Pincher Creek are setting an example for the rest of southern Alberta when it comes to climate change preparedness. On Thursday afternoon at Lethbridge Senior Citizen Organization members of the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs (SACPA) were given a look at what the town and district call their Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Plan. 

The project, funded by a grant from the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, is an in-depth analysis of risks the area faces as the effects of climate change become more evident, and what can be done to adapt to those shifts in climate and environment. 

While some areas of study focus on mitigating the risks–reducing the potential impact through acts of preservation – Pincher Creek, in partnership with Piikani Nation – is focused on a response to, what may very well be, inevitable outcomes because of the planet’s increasing temperature. 

“It’s our responsibility as a municipal district and the town, to get ahead of that and understand what the potential changes are so that we can be prepared for them as they come,” says Tristan Walker, Municipal Energy Project Lead, who spoke to an engaged audience. 

 In consultation with the All One Sky Foundation, using data collated by the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaboration at the University of Regina, 

Pincher Creek has created a list of 35 tangible changes and additions that can be made, ranging from health and wellbeing to infrastructure, and economy. Also included with the list is the categorization of that task or action, the urgency at which it must be done, and who should be responsible. 

One example from the category of health and well-being, is installing permanent structures that can provide shade as the temperatures increase.

 Results of the research indicate that the more eastern parts of the district – which extends from the Crowsnest Pass to west of Fort Macleod, hitting its northern most point near Bob Creek Wildland and spanning south to Waterton National Park – will see a significant increase in the number of days where temperatures exceed 30 degrees Celsius.

With that in mind, created shaded areas in public spaces such as parks will provide citizens reprieve from the heat. 

This action, deemed by the plan to be a project, has been marked as medium urgency and assigned as a responsibility of both the town of Pincher Creek and the Municipal district. 

It is estimated by the data collected that by 2050, the area will lose $18.3 million annually to outcomes of climate change, with that number rocketing to $32.8 million a year in 2089. 

But Walker says for every dollar spent making adaptations now, they can expect to save four of five dollars in the future. 

 Walker says area residents have been very receptive to the adaptation plan. 

Residents were consulted both via survey and a public meeting and played an important role in crafting the document and compiling the task list. 

The engagement, Walker believes comes from the existing connection most residents have to the land already through farming and ranching, two of the largest industries in the area. 

“There is an understanding that it is our duty to be prepared for things that will happen in the future,” he says. “By taking the initiative now, hopefully we will but things in place to lessen the impacts of those potential consequences.

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