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Town seeks feedback on draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan

by Adam Gault

Residents of the Town of Essex are being encouraged to review and provide feedback on its draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan, following a presentation of the document to Essex Council on Wednesday, January 13.

  In development since November 2019, the Plan has been designed through the combined efforts of the Town of Essex’s administration and the Essex Climate Adaptation Team. Climate Change analyst, Niharika Bandaru, headed the plan, which will seek to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change on the municipality over the course of the next five-years.

  The core of the Plan consists of 11 objectives, including six on the side of Community Engagement, or actions residents and citizens can undertake, and five on the Corporate side, or policies and services the Town of Essex manages. There are sub-action items in each category to assist the Town in reaching the climate goals.

  “Municipalities like ours are on the frontlines of responding to extreme climate events, which calls for a comprehensive and unique adaptation strategy,” reads part of the official Plan, entitled Climate Ready: A Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the Town of Essex 2021-2026. “The Plan forms the framework for civic and community actions, to help address and adapt to the impacts of climate change.”

  On the Community Engagement front, some of the objectives include supporting the enhancement of health through the integration of climate change into the Town’s communications strategy, encouraging the preservation of the natural environment through conservation land tax incentives and efforts to develop a tree cutting bylaw, and in supporting opportunities for investment into local businesses that take initiative with adaptation policies, such as promotional opportunities for businesses that have adopted climate change mitigation strategies.

  With the Corporate Objectives, the document calls for the Town to seek a proactive approach with respect to the services, policies, and operations it provides with respect to how it can best be geared to deal with climate change.

  These objectives will include an enhancement of climate-related health and safety measures, such as providing weather appropriate PPE to outdoor Town workers, the protection of municipal natural resources, and an emphasis of nature-based solutions (such as ensuring the proliferation of native flora), and the development of a buffer-strip policy to address municipal drainage issues.

  With an increase in flooding incidents over the past decade, the Plan will also seek to build and strengthen the Town’s infrastructure resilience with the possible implementation of a storm sewer surcharge, and the consideration of green technology for road development and reconstruction projects.

If adapted, funding for the initiatives and action items within the Plan will be based on supplementary additions to the annual operating or capital budgets, in addition to external funding opportunities, such as provincial or federal grants.

  “On behalf of Council, I’d like to thank the members of the Essex Climate Adaptation Team, Council Members, Town staff, and all those involved in the creation of this Plan,” Mayor Larry Snively said. “We’re already feeling the effects of climate change and to accomplish our goals we must work together.”

  Residents may review the draft plan online and provide their feedback through the Town’s website at essex.ca.

  Submissions to the form must be made before Wednesday, February 3, ahead of Council’s consideration of officially adopting the Plan later that month.

© 2021 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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