With the shocking scenes of flooding across British Columbia last month, one can’t help but acknowledge that climate change is already impacting communities across Canada.
While we may not see extreme flooding in Bruce County like the ones in BC, we don’t have to look too far—to our neighbors to the south in Goderich—to see the impacts of rising water levels and shoreline erosion.
In 2019, town officials in Goderich were forced to spend over one million dollars to protect the town’s water treatment plant.
With annual precipitation expected to become more variable, combined with the occurrence of extreme weather events, it has forced municipalities to rethink how they can better prepare for these events.
Preparing with municipal innovation
Thankfully the leaders around the table at the Municipal Innovation Council (MIC) have made a commitment to funding a project that will arm our decisionmakers in Bruce County with better information, so they are prepared for these events in the future.
And, with the help of the federal government, the MIC has been able to secure funding though the National Disaster Mitigation Program that will allow us to advance the Bruce County Topographical Mapping project.
So, what is the project? The Bruce County Topographical Mapping project:
Is a collaborative project that capitalizes on advances in technology;
Will help us leave our old, outdated maps behind as we prepare for fluctuations in water levels and shoreline erosion that have impacted homeowners and municipal assets;
Will provide municipal decisionmakers with better information so we can identify our risks and ensure we have effective mitigation strategies in place to respond faster and more effectively.
For example, municipalities must consider how impervious surfaces (paved parking lots, roads, etc.) impact how we manage storm water. With more and more extreme weather events including increased rainfall, these hard surfaces cause increased runoff that can lead to flooding.
By mapping impervious surfaces, municipalities can better understand where these problem areas exist and adapt town infrastructure—as well as have the knowledge they need to inform climate-proof new construction.
Over the next few months, we’ll be making progress to move this project forward, so stay tuned for updates!
Becky Smith is the Director of the Centre for Municipal Innovation.