A view of Mission Creek near the Creekside Pub on Thursday night in Kelowna.

Kelowna looks to deal with climate change

Kelowna council is set to take a closer look at how they're going to deal with climate change.

Kelowna council is set to take a closer look at how they’re going to mitigate the effects of climate change.

A Community Trends report to be presented Monday looks at the extreme weather that threw the city into chaos in recent months and offers some suggestions on what should be offered going forward.

“By understanding how climate change is impacting our community, it is possible to understand how the city and community should respond to this emerging issue to complement the city’s efforts on climate action,” wrote Ross Soward, planner specialist.

Kelowna, he explained, is changing rapidly.

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The population for example is at an estimated at 129,500, with over 12,000 new residents in the past six years alone. The economy is thriving, with significant job creation fuelled by the tech and housing sectors, a low unemployment rate of 5.2 per cent, and incomes that have risen by 18 per cent since 2011.

“The city’s appeal is broadening its reach and attracting more and more young families from the Lower Mainland,” writes Soward.

“Our educational institutions are continuing to grow and to invest with more students choosing to stay in the Okanagan after graduation. At the same time our airport is busier than ever, with 1.73 million passengers in 2016.”

RELATED: ONE IN 200 YEAR FLOOD

Despite a banner year for many sectors, the spring and summer of 2017, he said, were largely defined by extreme weather events and our community’s responses to them.

Starting with a wet spring that led to exceptional volumes of water entering

Lake Okanagan, Kelowna was faced with serious flooding. And while the lake level was still elevated and the cleanup effort was underway, the drought began in many parts of the province, setting up ideal conditions for forest fires.

The Emergency Operations Centre finally closed its doors in September, marking its longest continuous operation.

“Through the four lenses of Our Environment, Our People/Health, Our Economy and Our Infrastructure, this year’s Community Trends Report looks at these extreme weather events, using the best available information, to help us understand what we can expect in the years to come and what we might be able to do to prepare,” writes Soward.

The actions to address the changes include:

• Supporting the Mission Creek Restoration Initiative, re-naturalizing for environmental benefit and enhanced flood capacity

• Protecting agricultural land, which acts as a major environmental and storewater benefit

• Enforcing riparian protection and preservation of natural areas

• Explore opportunities to create more green infrastructure

• Examine infrastructure design standards and enforcement

• Update the Community Wildfire Protection Plan to reduce the risk of future wildfires and limit the impact on development in the interface zone

• Develop a Community Climate Adaptation Strategy

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