In recent years, the southwestern region of New Brunswick has experienced multiple and significant hydro-meteorological hazards including floods, blizzards, and ice storms.
Charlotte County Community Vulnerability Assessment (CCCVA) during 2013. The purpose of this initiative was to enable the community to share knowledge and concerns relative to climate change, as well as to develop and share down-scaled information on such topics as socioeconomic systems, sea-level rise, and inland flooding. With this information, the CCCVA process was able to help shape recommendations for reducing the vulnerability of the participating Charlotte County communities to future climate related hazards.
The process worked to determine which community elements are most sensitive to changes in the environmental and climate, and to start the development of plans that focus on building resilience. This was accomplished by utilizing a community level advisory and engagement process to allow local stakeholders to identify locations, groups, and processes that are most susceptible to climate change hazards and impacts, based on past experience and new local projections for climate change. The long term objective of the CCCVA and resultant climate change adaptation planning is to increase the resilience of five Charlotte County communities to the impacts of climate change and variability. This report reflects the discussions, perceptions and potential actions of five Charlotte County communities regarding their concerns for climate impacts, community vulnerabilities and resilience development, under a changing climactic regime.
The development of a regional all-hazards plan was the strongest recommendation shared by all working groups, which could contribute to improving community resilience. However, the severe hazards and associated emergencies that have already occurred in Charlotte County must be addressed in the planning process, with consideration being given to any possible adaptations that could contribute to less severe impacts. Attention must be paid to those hazards with a high likelihood of reoccurrence to make certain they thoroughly planned for.
Suggestions for hydraulic studies were put forward in St Stephen and St George, the communities which experienced significant inland flooding from rivers and brooks. It was suggested that a more detailed understanding of these areas would allow building and infrastructure issues to be addressed through mitigation.
In Blacks Harbour and Grand Manan, where climate related hazards had not posed a significant threat in the past, but were of concern into the future. Working groups indicated that their foremost concern focussed on impacts which posed a risk to crucial industry, thus, economic diversification studies were recommended.
hazards have impacted the communities of Charlotte County to varying degrees and proactive
These events have caused health impacts, physical and infrastructure damage, loss of household savings, temporary loss of services resulting in economic disruption, and environmental damage. As these initiatives to adapt to future impacts have been lacking, two local environmental organizations, the St Croix Estuary Project Inc (SCEP) and Eastern Charlotte Waterways Inc (ECW) organized the St Andrews was most concerned with communicating to, and gaining feedback from, their citizenry in order to formulate a place-based response to future challenges, including developing recommendations for actions to decrease vulnerability.
The recommendations from the community working groups that participated in the CCCVA are expected to support long term strategic resource management and policy development, build community resilience, and strengthen adaptive capacity as part of climate change adaptation planning process.
The CCCVA process has illustrated that one of the main factors which influences a community‘s ability to respond to new and potential circumstances is access to information. In the coming months and years, increasing the adaptive capacity of Charlotte County municipalities will also depend on the ability to clearly communicate information, the development of methods to effectively implement policy, and the resources to support these proactive efforts.