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The role that professional planners have in planning a city is critical when considering how to adapt to climate change. In the planning profession, there are many perspectives of planning. Planning for current and future problems is an essential task when designing a city. One must foresee what cities need in terms of planning, and one must design the city for it to be safe and functional in the long term, taking into account many potential issues. This report will focus on three municipalities: Victoria, British Columbia; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Saint John, New Brunswick. Comparing these municipalities and the issues they individually face will bring to light how climate change problems are prominent in multiple areas of Canada. This report will also acknowledge the differences that each city faces when addressing how to adapt to climate change, as well as how city planners play a role in designing a city for climate change.
There are several planning issues that must be addressed due to climate change. One problem that cities are facing as a result of climate change is rising sea levels. Victoria is situated in the southern end of Vancouver Island, neighbouring the Pacific Ocean, in British Columbia. Due to rising sea levels, the city must be prepared for floods as weather patterns change, and higher temperatures impact the climate. It is predicted that the sea levels will rise by one metre by the year 2100, and two metres by the year 2200 (Stewart & Osler 2018). The graph depicts how sea levels are projected to increase significantly in future years. The city must protect its citizens from rising sea levels by thoroughly considering their design, layout, and infrastructure. Problems that planners must address include updating drainage systems to accommodate the rising sea levels and expected storms. Victoria has an emergency plan which incorporates both structural and non-structural mitigation methods, such as floodway construction or land-use planning (City of Victoria, 2018).
The province of British Columbia has a Flood Plan in which diking authorities monitor risks that may impact the community, along with dam owners who will assure that dams do not overflow (Denlinger, 2013). This plan also assures that residents are safe and aware of the flood risks to their estates. There are several different impacts of climate change throughout British Columbia, including Victoria, in which the local governments are attempting to reduce the effects of climate change (Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 2018). For example, some suggestions include “buffering shorelines” (Carlson, 2012, p.11) or “improving water conservation and planting drought-tolerant species” (Carlson, 2012, p.11) for coastal cities, such as Victoria. Halifax, in contrast to Victoria, is placed on the east side of Canada, bordering the Atlantic Ocean, and it is the provincial capital of Nova Scotia.
As the climate changes, it is expected that there will be rising sea levels, frequent rainfalls, and more intense storms (“Impacts,” 2014). Many residents of Nova Scotia live on the shoreline, therefore rising sea levels and intense storms will damage their homes and people will be forced to evacuate. The planning problem is that houses were built on the shoreline, where residents’ lives may be at risk, and should ideally be relocated to a less dangerous place. With this in mind, the City of Halifax also must assure that the freshwater sources do not become contaminated with saltwater as the sea levels rise. By planning for this, the health of the community will not be jeopardized as floods and storms occur. By way of example, the Halifax Harbour’s sea level is estimated to rise by more than double the rate it has in previous years (McClearn, 2018). The sensitivity to climate change is extremely high for Halifax (McClearn, 2018). The flooding will reshape Halifax’s coastline and destroy the infrastructure near the shores. For example, the city should not permit houses to be built near the shoreline, rather they should be built on higher land above sea level, as well as roads. During a meeting in which consultants were discussing climate change, there was a discussion about constructing a bridge, “across the harbour’s mouth that would allow ships to pass in good weather but face the capability to become a barrier to defend against storms.” (McClearn, 2018). What Halifax has already implemented to adapt to climate change includes moving roads to areas in which they are less likely to be damaged by flooding. (“Transportation,” 2014).
Saint John is located on the Bay of Fundy, the St. John River, and the Kennebecasis River in New Brunswick (Trainor, 2018). In New Brunswick, there have been more floods than before, breaking the provincial record (cite here). It is estimated that floods will continue to happen as storms become more frequent and intense. The planning problem in this situation is how to protect the city from flooding. There will be higher amounts of runoff from the river, and further coastal deterioration (“Climate Change and the Science of Adaptation,” 2004). there have been “sewage overflows, contaminated well fields, and ice-jam flooding” in the St. John River due to the change in climate (White, 2017). When sewage overflows, this will contaminate the freshwater supply, which can be dangerous for the citizens of Saint John. It is the responsibility of planners to ensure that waterways cannot be in contact with sewage contamination, and therefore they must address this problem, potentially by reassigning the location of sewage tanks. Additionally, flooding has already impacted Saint John, therefore the city must adjust for flooding and manage where the excess water goes. Planners should arrange for homes and businesses to be built in safe areas where flooding is less likely to occur, rather than by harbours and beaches. Fortunately, the city recently installed underground storage tanks and detention ponds to lessen the effects of excessive rain and flooding in Saint John. City planners in Halifax and Saint John must plan according to rising sea levels and severe storms, such as updating infrastructure and transportation and relocating buildings to areas where floods are less likely to occur. Other measures in which Saint John and New Brunswick are taking to adapt to the change in climate include elevating houses, relocating to more safe areas, clearing electricity lines of trees, and adjusting water drainage systems (“Climate Change and the Science of [image: ]Adaptation,” 2004). All these municipalities have relatively similar issues when adapting to climate change because they are bordering oceans. Rising sea levels in Victoria, Halifax, and Saint John must all be considered when planning for climate change, as flooding has previously impacted these municipalities.
In addition to rising sea levels, an increase in global temperatures has been greatly impacting cities in Canada. Due to industrialization, emissions from carbon dioxide are increasing significantly and changing Earth’s climate (Rathi, 2016). This is causing temperatures to rise, and ice to melt, which can lead to natural disasters, such as severe storms, as well as increase the likelihood and severity of fires. The warming in Canada has increased by more than double, considering the global average rise in temperatures (“Climate Change Canada,” 2017). The rise in temperatures will create devastating impacts for cities in Canada, as it can enable flooding, forest fires, and drought. As drought occurs, crops are unable to flourish, and aquatic life cannot thrive in low water streams. British Columbia has recently broken records for heat and dryness (“Victoria Weather Station Saw Driest July in Nearly 120 Years,” 2018). Furthermore, British Columbia hopes to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by the year 2040 to help combat this problem. (Meissner, 2018). To reduce emissions, the province of British Columbia is introducing a plan for citizens to consume less energy in residential buildings and use technologies which do not harm the environment (Meissner, 2018).
In the province of New Brunswick, the government is looking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions contributing to rising temperatures. The target temperature by 2050 is to reduce these emissions by 75% to 85% from 2001 levels (Government of New Brunswick, 2017).City planners are imperative in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as they aid in deciding where to install transportation, housing, and high-rise buildings. Essentially, by planning for more resilient materials and fewer factories, by way of example, city planners can contribute to reducing these emissions. As temperatures continue to rise, severe storms will also occur, damaging houses and businesses. When referring to Figure 4, Saint John’s average temperature will increase between 6.4ºC and 7.2ºC during the years 2011 and 2040. With an aging population, an increase in temperatures and number of heat waves can be especially harmful to citizens, as they can result in illnesses. In addition, climate change has caused an overall 0.5ºC increase in the average temperature of Nova Scotia in the last century (Boon, 2017). This has unexpectedly aided farmers in growing new crops, such as the sweet potato. However, the temperature is projected to increase from 2ºC to 4ºC within the next eight decades, which will likely cause permanent damage to the earth (Boon, 2017). This damage includes rising sea levels as glaciers melt. Moreover, as Saint John, Victoria, and Halifax reduce greenhouse gas emissions, heat waves could be less dangerous in the city.
Citizens in Victoria, Halifax, and Saint John are at greater risk when heat waves occur because urban areas have the heat island effect (“Adapting to Heat,” 2017). Planners can establish cooling centres for people when summer days become quite humid (“Adapting to Heat,” 2017). Housing can have more vegetation around to provide shade. By introducing more greenery into cities, energy costs and fossil fuels emissions will decrease (Dickerson, 2015). “Broad-leafed trees are covered with more pores, so they can release more water into the air,” (Dickerson, 2015). This suggestion will aid in cooling cities from the heat island effect. Similarly, cool pavements and different materials to build roads and infrastructure can aid the rising temperatures. By planning to have more trees and cool pavements, and to modify the materials of infrastructure and roads, cities can adapt to the rising temperatures (“Adapting to Heat,” 2017). The similarity that occurs between Victoria, Halifax, and Saint John when considering rising temperatures is how these municipalities are all impacted by the heat island effect, in which planners must consider how to alleviate this issue. Municipal planners may attempt to mitigate the impact of the heat island effect in each province by potentially using more resilient materials for infrastructure and transportation. This similarity exists because these cities are urban with dense populations.
Extreme weather and natural disasters are also a consequence of climate change that cities must face. Victoria, and British Columbia in general, have been experiencing ferocious forest fires lately. It is imperative that the city manages to withstand the fire to save lives. These fires are often caused by drought, due to lack of precipitation for several days at a time. Forest fires are predicted to occur as tree species change and temperatures rise (“Climate Change and the Science of Adaptation,” 2004). Forest fires would be detrimental to the city, and planners must acknowledge how to protect the city from these fires. Professional planners must consider how to accommodate and prevent the city of Victoria from being damaged when forest fires occur, such as using natural barriers like rivers, to impede the fire from destroying infrastructure. Planners must address the problems in Victoria for forest fires, droughts, floods, rising sea levels, earthquakes, and severe storms. It is complex to accommodate all these natural activities, however the city planners of Victoria must ensure that storm sewers and channelized streams are functional, forest fires are unable to harm the city, and floods do not destroy infrastructure. Moreover, Victoria is in an area prone to earthquakes.
Cities must plan for earthquakes, as they are unpredictable and can be extremely damaging. Planners should ensure that residences such as houses are further into the suburbs, therefore less destruction from collapsing buildings will ensue in housing communities. Planners must foresee how to improve a city when natural disasters occur. Safety of the residents is important, and by considering how infrastructure and transportation can function during a natural disaster, planners should accommodate cities as such. In contrast, Halifax and Saint John are more likely to experience blizzards and hurricanes (“Nova Scotia,” 2018). An example of devastation with regards to natural disasters and climate change would be Hurricane Juan in 2003 (McClearn, 2018). This hurricane changed the level of water “nearly a metre above the highest high tides, spilling seawater into the downtown core.” (McClearn, 2018).
Although global warming is not creating more storms, it is creating more forceful and destructive storms (McGuire, 2018). As the location of Halifax and Saint John are near the east coast, the effect of climate change could be more prominent, as harsh winds, heavy precipitation, flooding, and rising sea levels transpire. Due to the location of Halifax and Saint John on the east coast of Canada, they experience different problems with respect to planning than Victoria does. However, the impacts of storm surges will greatly affect Victoria, Halifax, and Saint John alike, as it will cause floods, damaging houses and businesses, as well as disturb transportation and threaten public safety. As planners begin to accommodate municipalities for climate change, cities will be more organized and better planned for different weather patterns.
The cities of Victoria, Halifax, and Saint John have all been affected by climate change, and these cities must adapt to the changing weather patterns. In Victoria, the main planning issues include how to plan for floods, forest fires, and earthquakes. In Halifax, problems surrounding climate change comprise of rising sea levels, flooding, intense storms, and contaminated water supply. In Saint John, flooding, rising sea levels, and sewage deluge are the most prominent issues that city planners must address. There are many similarities between the cities and the issues they face, specifically because they are all located on the coastline of an ocean. These cities must address flooding due to rising sea levels, as well as an overall increase in average temperatures. This is relevant to planning because professional planners must be able to identify and analyze current issues, as well as foresee future problems to plan a municipality for a safe and healthy city for residents. Planners are critical when confronting climate change, as they make decisions to create a safe and functional environment for all citizens.BibliographyAdapting to Heat. (2017, January 11).
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