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Sea Level Rise & Climate Adaptation

Introduction:

Sea levels are expected to rise as a result of climate change, and winter storms are expected to increase in intensity. 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 lower-lying areas 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 would not be regularly inundated with sea water at every high tide, but rather during extreme storm events that are coincident with high tides. Provincial guidelines indicate that wave effect and freeboard also have to be considered when preparing mapping to determine a Flood Construction Level (FCL), which would increase water levels above what the maps indicate (maps are attached as appendices to the staff reports, see Related Links).

Sidney’s Interim Flood Construction Level Policy is a first step toward ensuring that new buildings are built with future water levels in mind.  This will guide construction and development in lower-lying areas of the Town until further steps are taken by the Provincial Government regarding the proposed amendments to the Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines.

Next Steps:

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.