Esquimalt approved its climate action, mitigation and adaptation plans this month as it prepares more work to address risks facing the township.
The plans identify greenhouse gas reduction strategies for avoiding the worst effects of climate change and infrastructure improvements needed to withstand harsher conditions.
The township expects average summer temperatures to be 3.3 C hotter by 2050, with year-round temperatures climbing 2.7 C by then. The number of days with extreme heat (over 30 C) are expected to occur four times as often by 2050, with an 11-fold increase by 2080. The reports predict more heat-related health implications, especially for the most vulnerable, and significantly increased demand for cooling.
The summer months will also see longer drought periods with 18 per cent less rain by 2050. Annual precipitation however is projected to go up, with October to December seeing the starkest uptick in rainfall. The report adds rain will fall faster, storms will be shorter but more intense and heavy storms will happen more frequently.
Hotter conditions causing thermally expanded seawater and more glacial melt are expected to see water levels around Esquimalt rise by one metre this century. The climate plan said much of the township is well above sea level, but areas like Esquimalt Gorge Park, West Bay and Department of National Defence lands will be vulnerable to the rising levels.
The reports highlight how much of Esquimalt’s infrastructure was installed during the ‘40s and ‘50s – and how its underground pipes are particularly vulnerable to climate change. The only climate risk given a “high” score was more extreme storms causing excess runoff into sewers – which can lead to the systems being overwhelmed, the plans say.
The adaptation plan calls for modelling to determine where stormwater capacity improvements are most needed and an increase in utility budgets for continued sewer and sanitary system repairs.
In an attempt to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, the township looks to cut emissions by almost 15,000 tonnes each year by 2030 and says it’s on track to do so.
Decarbonizing both transportation and how buildings function will need to be the main contributors in meeting that eight-year target. The largest reductions will be done through retrofitting existing buildings and the fuels they consume, along with electrifying passenger vehicles, upping transit ridership and improving active mobility.
The adaptation report said the township should educate residents on the benefits of retrofitting oil and gas home-heating systems and the rebates available to them, remove barriers to heat pump installation and increase rebate top-ups to provincial heat pump programs.
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