Climate Change Adaptation Plan Dorchester, New Brunswick

Following a number of intense storms that led to flooding and transportation disruptions, the Village of Dorchester formalized a community-based adaptation plan in 2017 to reduce its vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. Dorchester, New Brunswick, is located at the head of the Bay of Fundy and has a population of 1000 people. Dorchester is one of the most vulnerable regions in the province to climate change. A number of intense storms have impacted the community in recent years, leading to flooding and blocking access to critical services for residents. Other risks from climate change to the area include sea-level rise, intensifying storms and storm surges, and changing precipitation patterns. Due to these vulnerabilities, Dorchester, in coordination with EOS Eco-Energy, formalized a community-based climate change adaptation plan that includes information on climate change adaptation, local impacts, flood scenarios, a vulnerability assessment, and the adaptation plan organized by priority area.

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

A number of intense storms have impacted Dorchester in recent years, including a flood in spring 2014, which cut off access to a key road, causing transportation delays and blocking access to critical services. In January 2017, a severe ice storm left over 130,000 customers without power. Climate change is, and will continue to impact economic, social and environmental assets in Dorchester. In response, a community adaptation plan was developed by forming a planning committee, which included representatives from EOS Eco-Energy, the Southeast Regional Service Commission, Village staff, council and the local community, including Fort Folly First Nation. The committee met 5 times to discuss local climate change impacts, flood scenarios, to review existing risk and vulnerability assessments, to prioritize vulnerabilities; and develop adaptation options for an action plan.

A series of coastal flood scenarios for Dorchester were developed through scientific analysis by trained climatologists, including a current 1:25 storm and a 1:100 storm in the year 2100. Several public engagement initiatives took place to gain input into adaptation options and to assess local risks and vulnerabilities. Issues identified at workshops were marked on an interactive map to create the community’s risk and vulnerability maps. Finally, Dorchester considered elements of its regional sustainability plan, Tantramar 2040, during the development of the plan. Some of the pertinent actions relating to adaptation from the plan include, for example, work with local communities to determine vulnerability of local coastline, using historic information, local knowledge, climate science, and sea level rise projections as appropriate.

Identifying Actions

Taking into consideration results from the regional sustainability plan, the flood scenarios and climate impacts, workshops, and public input, the Dorchester adaptation planning committee selected the following eight priority areas for the community-based climate change adaptation plan: 1. Update emergency measures organization (EMO) plan 2. Improve Walker Rd. 3. The region being cut off, and many residents being cut off in different areas 4. Municipal lagoon 5. Risk of flooded rail bed 6. Penitentiary lagoon 7. Lift station at corner of Water St. 8. Localized freshwater flooding and erosion. Each of these priority areas are addressed with a series of action plans to address their vulnerabilities and reduce the associated risks. The Plan provides a detailed summary of recommended actions by timeline: ongoing, short (2017-2018), medium (2019-2021), and long (2022 and beyond).

Implementation

The Village of Dorchester council and staff began implementing the adaptation plan in 2017 and continue to be responsible for implementing the adaptation plan and meeting their goals according to the timelines in the plan. Each priority area in the plan provides information on the lead and partners, resources required, timeline, and indicators of success. For example under “Priority 3: Increase Self-Sufficiency due to the Region Being Cut Off” the plan lists:

  • The activity (i.e. create map of alternative routes and share with public);
  • A description (i.e. main routes in and out of Dorchester can be cut off due to floodwaters, alternative routes may be needed);
  • Lead and partners (i.e. Village of Dorchester in partnership with Southeast Regional Service Commission and Department of Transportation and Infrastructure);
  • Resources required (i.e. staff and council time);
  • Timeline (i.e. ongoing); and
  • Indicators of success (i.e. public knowledge of alternative routes).

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

Progress of the adaptation actions are monitored regularly and communicated to the public through a variety of means, such as the local village newsletter, community meetings, and social media. A climate change adaptation implementation committee oversees progress and meets bi-annually to monitor progress, take steps to ensure implementation of the plan continues, and reports to Dorchester Village Council.