Whether residents need shelter from intense heat, or emergency personnel need to communicate during disasters, communities must prepare to cope with extreme events like wildfires and floods. Ten projects are helping to ensure that locations within the Columbia Basin are well equipped to do so, with support from Columbia Basin Trust.
“Basin residents have emphasized the need for their communities to become more climate resilient,” said Will Nixon, Senior Manager, Delivery of Benefits, Columbia Basin Trust.
“We’re supporting these communities to be better prepared for events like wildfire or extreme weather. These projects will provide more resources so we can all face the future more confidently.”
In addition to the 13 projects supported in fall 2021, the Trust is providing nearly $2 million to help communities strengthen their emergency operations centres and create emergency gathering spaces for residents, with access to necessities like power, filtered air, air conditioning, emergency equipment and emergency supplies.
Here are a few examples:
Community Hall in Ymir
Built in the 1950s, the Ymir Community Hall is undergoing several enhancements to ensure it can aid the public in emergencies like forest fires, severe weather and floods. The Ymir Community Association is improving lighting and accessibility and adding a backup generator, wi-fi and a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
“With these much-needed upgrades to our community hall, we will be able to provide a safe and dependable space for the people of Ymir,” said Tamara Rushforth, Treasurer. “This main building of Ymir is greatly needed for emergencies of any kind, elections and celebrations. It is very important for all the residents that they have a place to go in case of any situation.”
Nakusp and District Sports Complex
The auditorium in the Nakusp and District Sports Complex can accommodate up to 600 people during emergency events. To serve them even better, the Village of Nakusp is installing a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the building, plus purchasing a backup generator.
“This project will enhance the resiliency of all communities in the Upper Arrow Lakes area, which are at risk from the impacts of climate change,” said Noel Ballard, FireSmart/Emergency Program Coordinator.
“It will provide a greater sense of security to members of these communities since they’ll know that there will be a safe place of refuge for them if they require one.”
Golden purchases portable backup generator
The Town of Golden is purchasing a portable backup generator, which will provide power to the Emergency Operations Centre during prolonged power failures. It can also power adjacent buildings like the arena and seniors centre, which can serve as reception centres or fulfill other important roles during disasters.
“We’re fortunate to have a state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Centre, which is the hub of emergency response during an event,” said Kyle Hale, Golden Emergency Program Coordinator.
“Wildfire, flooding, extreme weather and infrastructure failure can all cause a prolonged power outage and ensuring the centre and other critical community buildings can continue to operate is essential.”
The Trust integrates climate resilience throughout its work. For example, it offers an overarching program to help communities prepare for, respond to and adapt to challenges associated with the changing environment, plus more targeted programs like ones to reduce the risk of wildfires or do energy retrofits on community-purpose buildings. Learn more at ourtrust.org/climateresilience.