• John Jantak

Full-time focus on climate change for new Ste. Anne’s position


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

People walk along the snow covered Ste. Anne’s boardwalk on Tuesday, March 6. The city will hire a dedicated person for two years to devise strategies to deal with and reduce the impact of weather events caused by climate change such as the devastating spring floods in May, 2017 that ravaged parts of shoreline neighbourhoods.

The City of Ste. Anne de Bellevue has received financial support from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to establish an in-house specialized resource person dedicated to identifying and managing initiatives to address climate change challenges.

The grant will allow the city to hire a dedicated person for two years who will focus on issues related to climate change. This will boost the city’s ability to train and familiarize existing staff in ways of adapting all facets of the city’s administration in managing the effects of climate change.

Addressing climate change

“It’s pretty neat,” Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa told The Journal during a telephone interview on March 4. “It says a lot about Ste. Anne’s and how we’re always forward thinking. Obviously we proved to the FCM that we walk the walk and we’re committed to the whole idea of addressing climate change.”

The job responsibilities will include creating strategies to outline the city’s climate changes risks, to adapt proactive measures for managing flood risks, as well as mitigating other risks such as heat waves, higher than average temperatures, severe temperature fluctuations, major storms, and drought.

2017 flood

Ste. Anne’s is no stranger when it comes to extreme weather as a result of climate change. In May, 2017 a significant stretch of shoreline from the downtown core towards the Ste. Anne Rapids crested beyond flood stage which resulted in several homes being flooded north of the Galipeault Bridge. It was the worst flooding in more than 30 years.

The city’s prompt emergency response managed to limit the scale of the disaster. The city also learned new flood prevention and response strategies that it incorporated into its emergency response protocol. For Ste. Anne’s, it’s no longer a matter of if another flood will happen but when, said Hawa. This year’s prolonged cold temperatures and abundant snowfall could set the stage for another flood.

Heightened alert

“Once the end of April starts coming around, you’re on heightened alert watching every inch increase in the water level and every degree of temperature increase every hour, every day. We’re going to do the same thing we did last year. We’re going to have the emergency line and meet with residents in mid-April to go over what our plan of attack is,” said Hawa.

“This is going to be our ‘go to’ for the next few years. I don’t think we can ever sit back and just pretend like it’s never going to happen anymore. We should never lower ourselves into a false sense of security,” Hawa added.

Stemming climate change

Hawa said the town regards itself as a leader when it comes to taking positive steps to stem climate change.

“We’re changing mentalities and thinking outside the box. Look at how far we’ve come just in the past two years. We’ve saved green space. We’ve planted a gourmet bike path with fruit trees. We’ve become a Monarch butterfly friendly city. There are so many things we’ve done,” she said.

“We were among the first communities to have come up with an exhaustive sustainable development plan in 2012. We did that also with an FCM grant at the time. We want to come up with new ideas to see if we can work with other municipalities on and off island. When it comes to flooding, for example, we want to know what other cities around the world are doing to mitigate the risks,” Hawa added.

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