Shuswap Environmental Action Society president Jim Cooperman took his group’s concerns about climate change to last week’s Columbia Shuswap Regional District board meeting.
“Our goal today is to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and the need for precautionary, adaptation measures to protect citizens, property and natural values,” he said.
In his presentation, complete with graphs and photographs, Cooperman provided an overview of devastating global weather events over the past year.
He told directors some of the possible impacts of climate change in the Shuswap include: insect infestations that destroy forest stands and lead to greater snow accumulation and faster run-off; increase in the number and severity of forest fires; increased frequency of floods and droughts and massive storms that cause flooding and erosion.
Cooperman then turned his focus to this year’s debris flow and flooding in the Sicamous area.
“At Swansea Point, the big question in mind was how could this happen again,” he asked. “Why didn’t government learn from the 1997 Hummingbird slide and take action to prevent future slides?”
Cooperman’s next question was directed to the regional district.
“Is the CSRD lobbying the provincial government to build the debris basin and bridge they promised in 2004, or will you wait until the next flood?”
Cooperman offered directors and staff a number of suggestions to reduce the impact of climate change in the regional district, some of which, he pointed out, were provided in 2007 by Sarah Weaver of Living By Water.
These included protecting shorelines, improving storm water management, development planning, public education and community dialogue, determine where flood plains are located and improve drainage systems, identify and protect high-elevation water sources, interface fire planning and risk-reduction strategies and ongoing dialogue with government and the scientific community.
CSRD development services manager Gerald Christie took issue with some of the content of Cooperman’s presentation, noting it made it sound like there is a lack of regulation in regards to protecting water quality, the lakes and development from things such as flooding and septic systems.
“The point I would like to make is we do have development permits in place around most of the lake or they are imminent such as the Area C (South Shuswap) OCP which is about to be implemented,” says Christie. “For Mara and Shuswap lakes, and White Lake and Little White Lake, there are, or will be, development permit requirements.”
The 30-metre riparian area regulation development permit deals with development proposed within 30 metres of any water course.
There is also a hazardous area development permit requirement for any development proposed on slopes greater than 40 percent.
In addition, Area F has building inspection, which considers all the above points.
Christie says the action taken following the 1997 Hummingbird slide was not a CSRD decision.
“The CSRD does not approve subdivisions – it is the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure,” he said. “Certainly, we continue to liaise; we are always in consultation with the province on a variety of issues, including Swansea Point .”