Big Lakes County preparing plan to reduce greenhouse gases

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

Big Lakes County is participating in a climate change program of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). Council made the decision (although not unanimously) last summer to take part in Partners for Climate Resilience Program (PCRP), which includes setting greenhouse gas reduction targets for county operations.

More recently, councillor Fern Welch represented the county at a conference on climate change. In an email to the South Peace News, Welch says, “Even though the workshop included a lot of theory, it did bring to our attention that climate change is having an impact across the country, the environment in the air we breathe, the water we drink and where we grow our food. These need to be protected for now and the future and impacts need to be understood and managed.”
Welch adds more work is needed on how to effectively do that.

“Not everyone agrees or understands these impacts, so there’s work to do there too,” she says.

During the day-long workshop, participants discussed five components: weather impact, climate science, future impacts, risks and opportunities and planning. They heard that climate change has resulted in an increase in wildfires, snowstorms, rainfall, flooding, drought and increased strain on water resources.

“Alberta communities, including Big Lakes County, are the forefront of these impacts and should consider taking steps now to be better prepared for the future climate conditions,” says the workshop outline, “to ensure they continue to prosper….”

By participating in the program, it’s expected the county will raise awareness about the possible impact of climate change on the local economy, on property and infrastructure, the natural environment and the well-being of residents. The county will also be expected to develop a climate-resilience action plan, which would include enhancing its capacity to take advantage of opportunities. What these might be was not mentioned, but it could have something to do with a longer growing season.

Big Lakes County is one of several municipalities participating in the PCRP. Others include Mackenzie County, Spruce Grove, Bruderheim, Brazeau County, Beaver County, Black Diamond, Turner Valley, Sylvan Lake, Okotoks, Canmore and Banff.

Most of the funding for the workshop was provided by the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, established by the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.

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