Sea Level Rise & Climate Adaptation
Sea levels are expected to rise as a result of climate change. Planning for climate change and sea level rise now will reduce costs and impacts in the future since the risk is expected to increase over time.
The Provincial government is currently considering amendments to the provincial Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines which would incorporate sea level rise projections and implications. In 2014 and 2015, Capital Regional District (CRD) staff undertook mapping exercises to determine preliminary impacts of the proposed amendments on flood construction levels for the entire CRD geographical area based on the proposed provincial amendments, and subsequently released the information from that initial study to the local governments in the region, including Sidney.
Sidney’s relatively flat topography and proximity to the ocean puts several areas with significantly low elevations above sea level at risk for future flooding. The Staff Report to Council from July 7, 2015, (see Related Links) contains maps prepared by the CRD showing potential affected areas in the years 2050, 2100, and 2200 given expected sea level rise, a higher high tide event, and storm surge. It is important to note that the areas shown as affected on the maps that include “1.3 Metre Storm Surge” above the legend would not be regularly inundated with sea water at every high tide, but rather during potential storm events. Provincial guidelines indicate that wave effect and freeboard have to be considered when preparing mapping to determine a Flood Construction Level (FCL), using a simplified methodology, which would increase water levels above what the maps indicate (maps are attached as appendices to the staff reports, see Related Links).
Sidney’s Bylaws and Policies do not currently state a minimum FCL for construction within the Town. However, staff are working to bring forward a report to Council in the near future which will propose an interim strategy to guide construction and development in areas of the Town with low elevations above sea level until further steps are taken by the Provincial Government regarding the proposed amendments to the Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines.
Council has identified the development of a Sea Level Rise Plan and an Environmental Sustainability Strategy as key strategic priorities for the year 2018. In the meantime, staff will continue to work with the CRD and other local governments when opportunities arise to prepare for more detailed planning in 2018, and will report to Council with updates from the CRD and Province as more information is available.