CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION IN SAINT JOHN
As one of Canada’s oldest municipalities, Saint John is challenged by ongoing social and environmental inequity whereby areas with the most severe poverty rates in Canada are also those in closest proximity to highly vulnerable coastal areas as well as both the region's commercial core and Atlantic Canada’s industrial heartland. In response to these challenges, ACAP Saint John has built upon its role as a leading environmental incubator in Atlantic Canada to secure support from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to develop a design-focused Climate Change Adaptation Study for three central neighbourhoods in Saint John.
In collaboration with the City of Saint John, and through support from New Brunswick’s Climate Change Secretariat, ACAP Saint John will also be developing a Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the city. We will do so by incorporating climate change adaptation strategies for stormwater management while identifying, assessing and mapping risks and vulnerabilities in the city, and developing adaptation methods to increase resiliency throughout Saint John.
Outcomes from these two-year projects will be used to identify green infrastructure projects for stormwater management and to develop best practices for land use planning, low impact development, and municipal design and planning guidelines. Outcomes will inform ongoing development of neighbourhood plans, emergency measures planning and resiliency planning moving forward. The project will provide a robust understanding of climate change related issues for adapting our region and direct both the City of Saint John and ACAP Saint John in on-the-ground adaptation actions and capital investments. In a community defined by its oceans and waterways, ACAP’s work to identify best practices for stormwater management, to find innovative methods of adapting to climate change, and to execute placemaking projects, will enable community members to participate in bringing positive change to our shared water future.
Project findings will be included in revised editions of the municipal plan and will influence the future growth of city neighbourhoods in new developments and neighbourhood dialogue. In-person discussions and community sessions hosted by both ACAP and the City of Saint John will be the primary means of community engagement and consultation, while ACAP will continue to engage citizens with best practices for stormwater management and community placemaking projects through its well-established social media networks and local media outlets. Guides to building retrofits, rain-gardens and the value of green infrastructure will also be made available via printed and online materials.
With help from the community, ACAP will also develop at least two demonstration sites. This will involve reaching out to residents and other community stakeholders/rights-holders to participate in public space revitalization with an emphasis on quick, easy, cheap interventions based on placemaking principles. These principles use an innovative approach to involving community members in small-scale, hands-on interventions to improve the environment and use of shared public spaces. Demonstration projects could include rain gardens, parklet designs, stormwater detention ponds, green roofs, curbed wetlands and/or rain barrels depending on the input received from citizens.
Community consultation in neighbourhoods in the Central Peninsula, Lower-West Side and the North End will occur Fall 2018. Keep an eye on our events page for public information sessions and other community engagement for this project.
Climate Adaptation at Home
Small changes can add up, and can help us to be more prepared for the impacts of climate change on a larger scale. There are many actions that can be done on your own property that will help the city as a whole adapt. By knowing your risks, planning ahead and utilizing green infrastructure we can be more resilient in the face of climate change. This page will provide some of the tools and resources that you can use to inform yourself and begin the adaptation process.
KNOW IF YOU ARE AT RISK:
Identifying risks near your home is the first step in adaptation.
Are you in a low lying area or in close proximity to a body of water? Keep an eye on rising water levels through New Brunswick River Watch: https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/news/public_alerts/river_watch.html
Are power outages frequent?
Will road access to your home be cut off during a flood?
Are there erosion issues in your area? New Brunswick Coastal Erosion Database: http://geonb.snb.ca/erosion/index.html
Have a family emergency plan in place
Prepare a 72 hour survival kit. New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization: https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/emo.html
Pay attention to weather forecasts & advisories
Report trees that overhang power lines to Saint John Energy: http://www.sjenergy.com/index.php?page=vegetation-management
Remove tree limbs that may overhang your home or vehicles
Use bug spray when outdoors and near long grass
Consider modifications or equipment that will make your home more resilient to severe weather (i.e. generator, off grid power, flood proofing, stormwater management).
ADAPT COASTAL INFRASTRUCTURE:
Adapting coastal infrastructure to sea level rise and coastal erosion can be achieved in three ways: protection, accommodation and retreat/avoidance. Examples include:
Protection: hard/soft armouring beaches and coastal infrastructure, dykes, sea walls, restoring beaches/coastal wetlands, reinstating vegetation.
Accommodation: flood proofing buildings, changing building design guidelines, protection of coastal wetlands and restricting use in coastal areas.
Retreat/Avoidance: either abandoning or relocating infrastructure out of low lying areas restricting development in low lying areas
Depending on the risks and costs associated with each strategy, no single approach can be applied to every situation. A combination of adaptation strategies would provide a more holistic approach to dealing with sea level rise.
COASTAL AREAS PROTECTION POLICY FOR NEW BRUNSWICK:
The Coastal Areas Protection Policy was developed to guide development in coastal areas and to protect sensitive coastal habitats (NBDELG, 2002). Adaptation to sea level rise will require consultation with this policy to ensure the protection of New Brunswick’s beautiful coastline.
Zone A - areas closest to the water known as the coastal lands core area. Most sensitive zone and the least amount of development is allowed in this area.
Zone B - adjacent land beyond Zone A which provide a further buffer (30 m beyond the border from Zone A). A slightly greater range of activities would be acceptable in this range (i.e. single family residence (with conditions), repair, expansion or replacement of already existing structures).
Zone C - Coastal Transition Area beyond Zone B that form a transition from coastal to inland areas. Any activity in this area is reviewed for risk of damage due to storm surge and the impact of the development on the coastal ecosystem. Design requirements or recommendations may be made for proposed structures (i.e. structures be built 2 m above the highest high water level).
Activities such as installing groynes, quarrying, infill, dredging and causeways are prohibited in all zones. This policy applies to new development on private and publicly owned land.
MANAGE RAIN WHERE IT FALLS:
Green stormwater management infrastructure provides social and educational benefits by enhancing recreational spaces, beautifying/naturalizing the landscape, improving property values and provides opportunities for public education on stormwater management. Examples of green stormwater management methods include: rain barrels, rain gardens, bioswales, detention ponds, porous pavement, green roofs, stormwater planters, increasing vegetated surfaces, etc.
Mercer Clarke, C.S.L., Manuel, P. and Warren, F.J., 2016. The coastal challenge; in Canada’s Marine Coasts in a Changing Climate, (ed.) D.S. Lemmen, F.J. Warren, T.S. James and C.S.L. Mercer Clarke; Government of Canada, Ottawa, ON, p. 69-98.
NBDELG. 2002. A Coastal Areas Protection Policy for New Brunswick. Government of New Brunswick.
Climate Change Risks and sea level rise
ACAP Saint John is also working with community stakeholders and governments toward our city's first coastal and harbourfront risk mapping and adaptation strategies.