In Surrey, rising average temperatures and more frequent and intense rainfall events have already been observed, and are expected to continue on that trajectory. In British Columbia, the University of Victoria’s Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) delivers high quality climate data, analysis and interpretation to local governments and other stakeholders. City of Surrey also collects extensive weather data which assists the City in corroborating projections, undertaking finer-grained analyses and recognizing emerging trends. Climate projections and historic weather trends must now be considered together in decision-making since historic weather is no longer an accurate predictor of future climate. In determining the local climate impacts, data were obtained from the PCIC, BC Ministry of Environment reports, and other credible and scientific sources. A vulnerability and risk assessment were conducted for each of 18 impact statements to determine the areas in which the City should focus its effort, resulting in a priority set of 14 impact statements that described the key ways in which Surrey would be affected by projected climatic changes. Of those 14 identified risks, three high risk, three medium-high risk, four medium risk, and four medium-low risk impacts were identified. High risk impacts correspond to sea level rise and expected increases in precipitation and include increased flooding and potential overtopping of existing sea dykes from storm surges and sea level rise.
This case study reviews the process and steps taken by City of Surrey to develop its Climate Adaptation Strategy (CAS) (2013) in response to high level climate risk areas related to drainage and flooding, tree mortality and ecosystem change, energy security, and agricultural viability in Surrey. Surrey is located in the lower mainland of British Columbia, with a rapidly growing population and increasing urbanization and development within the region. In response to these impacts, cross-departmental working groups developed 91 actions to increase resilience in six sectors: Flood Management and Drainage, Infrastructure, Ecosystems and Natural Areas, Urban Trees and Landscaping, Human Health and Safety, and Agriculture and Food Security. The CAS was coordinated and written by the City’s Sustainability Office, with ongoing direction for the strategy development coming from the staff Adaptation Advisory Team. Additionally, a large number of City staff participated in cross-departmental working groups to define the adaptation actions, including Engineering, Finance & Technology, Planning & Development, and Parks, Recreation and Culture. Additional input was provided by a cross-cutting group of sectors and stakeholders, including environmental consulting companies, health care, academic research teams, and community organizations.