Climate Change Adaptation Plan: Coastal Erosion and Flooding City of Bathurst

After assessing risks and vulnerabilities for 31 sites across the City, Bathurst developed a Climate Change Action Plan in 2016 that addresses primarily coastal sea level rise, storm surge risk, and erosion risk. The City of Bathurst, located in northern New Brunswick along Chaleur Bay, has over 12,275 residents and faces increasing temperatures and precipitation, rising coastal sea levels, and more extreme weather events than ever. These climate change impacts are accelerating coastal erosion and damaging public infrastructure—the total cost of flood-related damage in the province exceeded $100 million from 2008 to 2012. The Plan focuses on the following three primary adaptation actions: zoning based on flood risk, general actions that can be implemented city-wide (regulating development, increasing green buffers, updating emergency plans), and specific actions for sites facing particular risks.

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

Coastal New Brunswick is increasingly susceptible to the effects of sea level rise and storm surge events related to our changing climate. Without contingency plans for such events and the implementation of adaptation measures to mitigate them, parts of the City of Bathurst could be in jeopardy when they occur. This document presents an assessment of the climate change impacts, as well as the risks and vulnerabilities of the City to coastal storm surges and erosion. At this time, the plan addresses primarily coastal sea level rise, storm surge risk, and erosion risk, as those were identified as priority hazards by the City. This assessment was carried out through an engagement process with City departments, a council committee, and a community stakeholder working group. Information obtained from this process was compiled and summarized, resulting in the identification of 31 sites that are most at risk within the City. An analysis of historical rates of erosion and predictions along the coast of the City of Bathurst was conducted. Climate models were used to project changes in average mean temperature and annual total precipitation (mm) by the year 2080. Flood risk scenarios as well as erosion predictions were used to map infrastructure at risk at various predicted flood levels in the next 85 years. Mapping was based on LiDAR, high precision digital elevation mapping, which was integrated into the City’s Geographic Information System. The risk assessment was carried out in consultation with City departments, the steering committee, and the community stakeholder working group.

Identifying Actions

The risk assessment identified 31 sites that face particular risks and impacts over time. A series of adaptation actions were developed using the results of the risk assessment. Actions that the City can take to adapt to flood risk are subdivided under three categories:

  1. Adopt zoning based on relative flood risk;
  2. Take general actions that can be implemented city-wide; and
  3. Take specific actions for sites that have particular risks.

A list of general adaptation actions is also provided in a series of categories, including: Shorelines, dunes & vegetation buffers; Emergency Measures; Community awareness; and Land use planning and development.

Implementation

Implementing the actions proposed in the plan involves a commitment on the part of the City planners, community engineers, community members, and emergency measures organization to ensure that the adaptation options are put into action. A list of recommendations for next steps related to implementation was developed and focuses on the following key areas: Incorporating the Adaptation Plan into Municipal Operations; Planning & Research; Community Engagement; and Oversight and Ongoing Updates. An Implementation Tracker was developed, detailing the action, the lead, and the associated timeframe.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

The risk assessment identified thirty-one sites as areas at risk of coastal flooding and erosion. Actions that the City can take to adapt to flood risk were also identified and subdivided under three categories: 1) adopt zoning based on relative flood risk 2) take general actions that can be implemented city-wide; and 3) take specific actions for sites that have particular risks. Three zones are proposed for the City based on flood risk and vulnerability assessment, as identified below. Different guidelines and development standards will apply for each zone, thereby allowing City development officers, municipal officials and residents the ability to clearly manage potential impacts (implemented through the municipal plan, overlay zoning, hazard zoning, etc.).

Next Steps

This adaptation plan is meant to be a living document, as the impacts of climate change will vary and produce diverse hazards, from increased coastal flooding, to severe and heavy rainfall events, as well as increased freeze-thaw events in winter, and heat waves and drought in the summer. The goal of this adaptation plan is to increase the City’s overall resilience and to reduce the risks associated with climate change. At this time, the plan addresses primarily coastal sea level rise, storm surge risk, and erosion risk, as those were identified as priority hazards by the City. The City plans to address inland flood risk in the near future.

Resources


Understanding and Assessing Impacts

Coastal New Brunswick is increasingly susceptible to the effects of sea level rise and storm surge events related to our changing climate. Without contingency plans for such events and the implementation of adaptation measures to mitigate them, parts of the City of Bathurst could be in jeopardy when they occur. This document presents an assessment of the climate change impacts, as well as the risks and vulnerabilities of the City to coastal storm surges and erosion. At this time, the plan addresses primarily coastal sea level rise, storm surge risk, and erosion risk, as those were identified as priority hazards by the City. This assessment was carried out through an engagement process with City departments, a council committee, and a community stakeholder working group. Information obtained from this process was compiled and summarized, resulting in the identification of 31 sites that are most at risk within the City. An analysis of historical rates of erosion and predictions along the coast of the City of Bathurst was conducted. Climate models were used to project changes in average mean temperature and annual total precipitation (mm) by the year 2080. Flood risk scenarios as well as erosion predictions were used to map infrastructure at risk at various predicted flood levels in the next 85 years. Mapping was based on LiDAR, high precision digital elevation mapping, which was integrated into the City’s Geographic Information System. The risk assessment was carried out in consultation with City departments, the steering committee, and the community stakeholder working group.

Identifying Actions

The risk assessment identified 31 sites that face particular risks and impacts over time. A series of adaptation actions were developed using the results of the risk assessment. Actions that the City can take to adapt to flood risk are subdivided under three categories:

  1. Adopt zoning based on relative flood risk;
  2. Take general actions that can be implemented city-wide; and
  3. Take specific actions for sites that have particular risks.

A list of general adaptation actions is also provided in a series of categories, including: Shorelines, dunes & vegetation buffers; Emergency Measures; Community awareness; and Land use planning and development.

Implementation

Implementing the actions proposed in the plan involves a commitment on the part of the City planners, community engineers, community members, and emergency measures organization to ensure that the adaptation options are put into action. A list of recommendations for next steps related to implementation was developed and focuses on the following key areas: Incorporating the Adaptation Plan into Municipal Operations; Planning & Research; Community Engagement; and Oversight and Ongoing Updates. An Implementation Tracker was developed, detailing the action, the lead, and the associated timeframe.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

The risk assessment identified thirty-one sites as areas at risk of coastal flooding and erosion. Actions that the City can take to adapt to flood risk were also identified and subdivided under three categories: 1) adopt zoning based on relative flood risk 2) take general actions that can be implemented city-wide; and 3) take specific actions for sites that have particular risks. Three zones are proposed for the City based on flood risk and vulnerability assessment, as identified below. Different guidelines and development standards will apply for each zone, thereby allowing City development officers, municipal officials and residents the ability to clearly manage potential impacts (implemented through the municipal plan, overlay zoning, hazard zoning, etc.).

Next Steps

This adaptation plan is meant to be a living document, as the impacts of climate change will vary and produce diverse hazards, from increased coastal flooding, to severe and heavy rainfall events, as well as increased freeze-thaw events in winter, and heat waves and drought in the summer. The goal of this adaptation plan is to increase the City’s overall resilience and to reduce the risks associated with climate change. At this time, the plan addresses primarily coastal sea level rise, storm surge risk, and erosion risk, as those were identified as priority hazards by the City. The City plans to address inland flood risk in the near future.

Resources