Understanding and Assessing Impacts
The effects of climate change are already apparent in Okotoks, with observable changes in temperature, precipitation, and Extreme Weather Events over the last century. The average annual temperature in the Okotoks area has increased by about +1.4°C since the early 1900s, with winter months seeing greater warming than summer months. Over the same period, the amount and timing of precipitation in the area have also changed. To establish the context for climate resilience action planning in Okotoks, an assessment of risks and opportunities was undertaken at a one-day workshop with local stakeholders.
Prior to the workshop, the Town of Okotoks compiled climate projections for the 2050’s for the Okotoks area using business-as-usual (RCP 8.5) and strong mitigation (RCP 4.5) scenarios. Historic climate trends in Okotoks were collected and analyzed from four climate stations in the region (Olds, Calgary, Gleichen, and Lethbridge). This information was presented and reviewed by stakeholders at the workshop to determine how projected climate changes could impact Okotoks. Workshop participants identified a range of climate-related impacts for the local economy, property and infrastructure, the natural environment, and residents’ health and lifestyles. The comprehensive list was modified to produce a smaller list of the most important priority risks:
- Water supply shortage
- River flooding.
A list of potential climate change opportunities for Okotoks was also created, for example longer growing seasons would provide economic benefits for local food producers, and increased opportunities for winter tourism and recreation resulting from fewer periods of extreme cold.