Adaptation planning in Edmonton and Calgary

To support their adaptation planning, the cities of Edmonton and Calgary commissioned a series of white papers on building a climate-resilient city in the Prairies. Calgary’s Climate Resilience Plan describes what the city is doing to reduce GHG emissions and adapt to climate change. The plan identifies risks and vulnerabilities that city services and operations face as a result of extreme weather events and the business units responsible for implementing actions to reduce those risks. The City of Edmonton took a phased approach to developing its climate change adaptation strategy, starting with an assessment of risk under current climate conditions, examining climate change over the past century and projections of future change, and preparing an economic analysis of the costs of inaction and a review of case studies.

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Understanding and Assessing Impacts

Between 2011 and 2012, a province-wide assessment of climate change-related risks and opportunities evaluated the potential impacts of climate change on agricultural production and the sector’s capacity to adapt. The assessment made evident that due to British Columbia’s diversity (with respect to agriculture, ecology and climate), a regional approach to climate change adaptation is required. Building on these findings, in 2012–2013 a pilot project was initiated with agricultural producers, agricultural organizations and local governments in Delta and the Peace River and Cowichan Valley regions. Each planning process resulted in a distinctive set of local sector impacts and priorities, as well as a series of strategies and actions for adapting and strengthening resilience. In 2013–2014, following completion of the pilot, the Regional Adaptation Program was launched. The Program is delivered by the Climate & Agriculture Initiative BC (CAI). The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) assisted in the production of the agriculturally relevant regional climate projections for the 2020s, 2050’s and 2080s that are presented in each regional plan. Some of the overall impacts of climate change for BC agriculture have been identified as follows:

  • More frequent occurrence and severity of summer drought;
  • Water shortages in more regions;
  • Decreased snowfall in alpine areas leading to reduced snowpack and water shortages;
  • Increased precipitation (frequently through more extreme events) and subsequent vulnerability to flooding, erosion and nutrient loss;
  • More frequent and intense extreme weather events (windstorms, forest fires, hail, droughts and floods);
  • Increase in growing degree days (heat units) and a longer frost free season, leading to a potential for broader range of viable crops in some regions; nad
  • Increase in pest and disease pressure due to winter survival.

Identifying Actions

The Regional Adaptation Program (RAP) brings together producers, agricultural organizations and government staff and agencies to collaboratively identify priority climate impacts and strategies and to implement actions that support agricultural adaptation. The program has two key phases:

  1. Developing an adaptation plan specific to the region; and
  2. Implementing projects to achieve priority strategies and actions identified within the plan.

Each region’s strategies and actions reflect the particular climate change impacts in that area, as well as the adaptive capacity and adaptation challenges and opportunities specific to agriculture in that region.

As an example of the adaptation planning process, the development of the Bulkley-Nechako & Fraser-Fort George Adaptation Strategies involved three key stages.

  • Stage 1 – Background research and local partnerships – Research included interviews and review of relevant documents and related activities. A local Advisory Committee was formed to provide input throughout the planning process.
  • Stage 2 – Workshops – A total of four workshops and two focus groups were held. The first set of workshops focused on reviewing climate change projections, discussing the associated agricultural impacts and identifying priority areas of risk. Developing strategies and actions for adapting to these priority areas then became the focus of the second set of workshops. A total of 106 individual participants attended one or more of the project workshops and/or the final implementation meetings.
  • Stage 3 – Implementation Meeting – An implementation meeting and a supplementary focus group were held, which involved prioritization of draft actions based on which were most important, which were easiest to implement and which would support enhancement of capacity for additional adaptation. The meetings also included discussion of steps to implement prioritized actions.


Between 2013 and 2020, eight regional adaptation plans were completed under RAP in the following regions: Cariboo; Delta; Fraser Valley; Okanagan; Peace; Bulkley-Nechako & Fraser-Fort George; Kootenay & Boundary; and Vancouver Island.

As an example, the Kootenay & Boundary Adaptation Strategies identified four impact areas as highest priorities with respect to agricultural adaptation in the region:

  • Impact Area 1 – Warmer & drier summer conditions
  • Impact Area 2 – Increasing wildfire risk
  • Impact Area 3 – Increasing variability
  • Impact Area 4 – Increasing risk of spring flooding

Each impact area includes a background description, adaptation strategies, and adaptation actions to support the Kootenay & Boundary region agriculture sector with adapting to climate change. Examples of adaptation strategies include: improve tools and resources for irrigation efficiency and water management best practices; promote wildfire preparedness planning at the farm and regional levels; and slow and capture runoff through enhancement of small-scale green infrastructure. Following the strategies and actions, the plan highlights those actions identified for near-term implementation and provides information on key participants, timeframes and cost ranges for near-term priority actions.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

CAI is monitoring the implementation of each regional plan. Updates to plans that also assessed progress were complete for five regions in 2017, including: the Cariboo Adaptation Strategies plan; Delta Adaptation Strategies plan; Fraser Valley Adaptation Strategies plan; Okanagan Adaptation Strategies plan; and Peace Adaptation Strategies plan.

As an example, the Cariboo Adaptation Strategies Update provides details on the strategies and actions that have been implemented to date for each of the plans priority impact areas. By the spring of 2018, nine regional projects had been completed and funding had been fully committed. In addition to providing details on the strategies and actions that have been implemented to date, the Cariboo Adaptation Strategies Update outlines priority actions that would support further progress and implementation, including a list of activities, implementation details, possible partners, timeframe, and cost. A new phase of project implementation began in 2018 (with an additional installment of funds) and another 5 projects have been implemented in the Cariboo to continue to build on earlier work and identified priorities.