Climate change, extreme weather in coastal settings on agenda for Halifax conference

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Climate change, extreme weather in coastal settings on agenda for Halifax conference
WATCH ABOVE: Elected officials, planners and public safety professionals from coast-to-coast are in Halifax this week for a national conference on climate change. The goal? to build partnerships and create a conversation around building resilience to extreme weather. Global's Natasha Pace reports. – Sep 12, 2016

From the widespread flooding that hit Truro, N.S. in 2012 to Post-Tropical Storm Arthur, that battered much of New Brunswick in 2014 – extreme weather events are happening more often across the Maritimes and around the country.

This week, hundreds of officials are in Halifax for the annual Livable Cities Forum, focusing this year on “Changing Climate, Changing Communities.”

“A decade ago, we were mostly talking about greenhouse gas emissions, reductions and mitigating climate change but that conversation has really swung now to talking about being more prepared for the impacts,” said Megan Meany, director of ICLEI Canada.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia ‘on the front lines of climate change’: activist

Part of the conference will have officials look at how to prepare for extreme weather in coastal settings and learn how some cities have recovered from devastating events.

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“Climate change is a big issue right, especially in Atlantic Canada where municipalities are really hit hard,” said Meany.

“Collaboration is key always. The Atlantic Canada cities, they’re not doing this alone. We’ve got cities from across Canada here that are working with them to share their strategies and share they’re experiences.”

“You know, Fort McMurray, they were hit with the fires this past year and they’re here and talking with others about what they learned from those experiences,” she said.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray businesses struggle to get back to normal after wildfire

Experts say all provinces have issues that are unique to them when it comes to the fight against climate change.

“For example, a place like Peggys Cove, you’re probably not going to have much erosion there but the issue is going to be big waves and sea level rise. Where as P.E.I., erosion is really more on the forefront there,” said Vincent Leys, costal engineer at CBCL Limited Consulting.

In Halifax, city planners say they’ve been taking climate change into consideration for some time now.

“The momentum that we have in the city started probably over a decade ago in terms of anticipatory planning for climate change,” said John Charles, a planner with the Halifax Regional Municipality.

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“This is something that we’ve kept doing. We have to think back to 2003 and Hurricane Juan. That was certainly a wake up call. After that White Juan, another wake up call, so our planning has taken that into consideration.”

The 2016 Livable Cities Forum wraps up Wednesday.

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