Central Saanich Community Association – Climate Action Task Force
Climate Adaptation Research Findings with a primary focus on – Agriculture – Food Security & Self-Sufficiency
The Climate Leadership Plan was created in 2020 and since then extreme climate change events have become more frequent and more severe. Until 2021 we had never heard of cumulonimbus clouds induced from the heat of wildfires that earned a nickname from NASA as “fire breathing dragon clouds.” Nor had we experienced heat domes, or atmospheric rivers. If we’ve learned anything from the wildfires that destroyed the entire town of Lytton back in 2021, it’s that as a community we must be proactive and prepare for the threats we may face as climate change accelerates.
With that in mind Carla and I started to research1TEN Vancouver Island coastal municipalities that would be facing similar risks to Central Saanich and discovered that in addition to individual Climate Action Plans, a few municipalities including Esquimalt, Ucluelet and Qualicum Beach had collaborated with the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, better known as ICLEI, a global organization that works with Local Governments for Environmental Sustainability. Recently, the City of Victoria contracted ICLEI to assist staff and other stakeholders with the creation of a Climate Adaptation Plan for Victoria. Although Central Saanich had a page dedicated to Adaptation to Climate Change in the Climate Leadership Plan and touched on climate adaptation at times in the OCP, there isn’t a separate Climate Adaptation Plan in place that outlines all of the risks we may face from increasingly extreme climate change events, nor concrete actions to address the potential risks with timelines in place for each actions item initiated to ensure that actions taken meet the established target dates.
After studying various municipal Climate Adaptation Plans, we recognized that the Risk Assessment results compiled by nearby municipalities would be very similar in Central Saanich with respect to Ecosystem Impacts, Health and Safety Impacts and Agricultural Impacts and We’ve listed a few of the impacts we felt were relevant to Central Saanich, including but not limited to:
- More frequent and intense rainfall events causing soil saturation with impacts on natural bio filtering and storage resulting in flooding and possible water quality issues
- Cooler springs delaying planting opportunities on local farms resulting in a late start for the growing season
- Coastal inundation and overland flooding that limits the use of farm land in low-lying areas, or could lead to loss of crops
- Increased average temperatures and drier summers increases topsoil erosion and compromises food production potential while causing 2 native species to be stressed, providing opportunities for invasive species to take hold.
- Longer periods of drought causing increased tree mortality and a change in urban forest composition
- Extreme heat events that increase wildfire activity & result in poor air quality poses a threat to the very young, the elderly and to outdoor workers whose daily work exposes them to toxic smoke particulate
- Increased coastal wave action causes erosion, soil and groundwater salination posing a risk to the water table and nearby farmlands.
- A reduction of groundwater recharge resulting in wells drying up and longer periods of drought, presenting challenges for farmers to keep crops watered as needed
In the midst of our research Jennifer Lukianchuk (Senior Climate Action and Natural Environment Coordinator for Central Saanich) advised us that Central Saanich would be receiving $270,000.00 to work on Community Emergency Preparedness and Climate Adaptation Planning to help reduce the risk of a potential disasters related to climate change such as flooding, extreme heat or wind events and equip the community to plan and respond to potential emergencies. This project will be coordinated by Lisa Banford, Fire Administration and Emergency Preparedness Specialist at the Fire Hall. We contacted Lisa and she advised us that this will be a two year project commencing with a professional risk assessment sometime in the third quarter of this year. Lisa has invited us to meet with her after the risk assessment is completed and we’ll be happy to share our research results.
We noted that Food Security seemed to be missing from the conversation. With 66% of the district’s land base in the ALR, we decided that this should be our primary focus as acceleration of severe climate change events could seriously impact our local food security, especially if global supply chains are compromised or dry up. We decided to contact the owners of the largest farms in Central Saanich to see how they were faring.
We were not surprised to hear that ALL ten farmers were experiencing the impact of climate change on their industry and they advised us of the following:
- Increased rainfall over very short periods caused flooding and drainage issues resulting in damage or loss of crops in low lying areas
- Very cold weather conditions during spring delayed planting season for several weeks
- Some farmers shared that they would be interested in extending their growing season if winterizing their aging greenhouses was viable and supported. Three farmers had tried planting a few vegetables in greenhouses built years ago for mild winter temperatures.
With temperatures regularly falling to single digits, close to 0 Celsius or below, it was only possible to heat their greenhouses up to 10 degrees Celsius. As a result many seedlings were lost, and without the sun and warmer temperatures in the greenhouses, veggies failed to grow with the exception of carrots on one farm that were stunted when harvested in the spring.
- Stronger winds are becoming problematic, not only damaging crops, but the plastic covers the farmers use on some crops to speed up growth and allow for earlier planting and harvesting and replacing these coverings is expensive.
- Farmers had more difficulty determining when and what to plant with more inconsistency in current weather patterns
- They all noted that periods of drought are starting earlier in the growing season and lasting throughout. It’s harder for plants to get established if they’re not getting enough water. Well water dried up on some farms and more than one farm needed to hook up to the municipal water supply which can be expensive.
- Extreme heat damages crops, and leads to lengthy drought and/or ripens all the fruit at once making it difficult to harvest in a timely fashion.
When asked if Central Saanich councilors were aware of the challenges local farmers are facing, they had a similar response. There’s a gap in communication between local farmers and the municipality. Farmers felt the need to have more communication and collaboration around the issues affecting them, especially when faced with the new challenges climate change is presenting on their farms.
This was also noted in the Official Community Plan (2nd draft dated Sept 22, 2022) under General Policies #17 which states that Central Saanich will:
- support regional efforts to improve coordination of farm related initiatives.
- promote opportunities for farm development
- Improve communications & apply for funding grants for local farms
Farmers also expressed concerns about:
As existing farmers retire, young farmers are not likely to have the financial means to purchase and operate a farm in Central Saanich as the cost to purchase arable land on Vancouver Island is enormous and they would likely need to consider leasing land on an existing farm.
Impact of Development on farmland:
Farmers expressed concerns from developments near farmland and the impacts from new builds, new roads, and other infrastructure that can lead to flooding issues in fields when land is covered with concrete and water has fewer places to be absorbed into the ground.
Food Security and Supply Chain Issues:
As the impact of climate change around the world creates more challenges for the agriculture industry, importing food from other countries and provinces may be drastically reduced, or completely disrupted.
Transportation of food may be hampered by flooding and wildfires. Farmers in Central Saanich may have to deal with expectations to increase the local food supply by growing some crops year round in winterized greenhouses. This would be an added expensive over and above usual farming related expenditures.
Food security and the supply chain are such important issues that as one farmer stated, “you would think we’d be more of a priority.”
In the CS Official Community Plan, September 22, 2022 on page 54, There’s a reference to increasing the amount of land for food production.
Supporting local farmers during peak growing season(s): Some farmers made a plea for CS residents to support their local farms by purchasing their vegetables and fruit during growing season in lieu of purchasing produce being trucked in from elsewhere to the grocery store. Ideally stores like Thrifty’s and Red Barn should be encouraged to carry our local farmers produces especially when local produces are plentiful.
1 Please refer to attached spreadsheets outlining municipalities researched 1
2 We conducted interviews with the owners of the TEN largest farms in Central Saanich to see how they are coping with climate change and asked each of them the following questions:
- How has climate change impacted your current farming practice?
- Are Central Saanich municipal councilors aware of the challenges?
- Are you equipped to lengthen the growing season into the fall and winter?
- Would financial support help with additional costs due to climate change?
- Would it be helpful to bring farmers together with the council to discuss your needs and challenges you face due to changes to the climate?
Climate Adaptation Team Recommendations on Food Security and Food Self-Sufficiency that were Presented to the CSCA Members on July 3, 2023 – Click here to view document
ADDITIONAL RESEARCH RESOURCES: MEDIA ARTICLES/NEWS RELEASES LISTED BY CATEGORY:
|Topic||Date||Published by:||Link to Article/Website:|
|Greenhouses Aim to Bring Fresh Produce to the North, putting a dent in food insecurity||2023-Jul-21||The Canadian Press||https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/greenhouses-aim-to-bring-fresh-produce-to-north-putting-a-dent-in-food-insecurity/ar-AA1e9D14?ocid=hpmsn&cvid=75f748bf5fee4329a80aff2448c1ee5d&ei=50|
|With our food systems on the verge of collapse, it’s the plutocrats vs life on Earth||2023-Jul-17||The Guardian||https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jul/15/food-systems-collapse-plutocrats-life-on-earth-climate-breakdown?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other|
|‘Not normal’: B.C. farmers, crops, livestock feeling the impacts of drought||2023-Jul-16||Global News||https://globalnews.ca/news/9834742/bc-farmers-drought-impacts-summer-2023/|
|Farm Workers Face Increasing Risk of Heat Related Illness as Summers get Hotter||2023-Jul-14||Vancouver Sun||https://vancouversun.com/news/farm-workers-increasing-risk-heat-related-illnesses-as-bc-summers-get-hotter|
|Harnessing the Ocean to Provide a Better Solution for Droughts||2023-Jul-10||The Tyee||https://thetyee.ca/News/2023/07/10/Desalinating-Buoys/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=100723|
|Canada launches the first ever Climate Adaptation Strategy which aims to transform the way governments, communities & Cdns. work in partnership to prepare for, |
and reduce the risks from climate change.
|What’s Happening to Canada’s Farmland? Canada appears to be losing the equivalent of 3 farms per day||2023-Jun-23||CBC News||https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/canada-prime-farmland-1.6877661?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar|
|Canadian Prairie farmers try to adapt to a warming world||2023-Jun-12||MSN – AFP||https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/technology/canadian-prairies-farmers-try-to-adapt-to-a-warming-world/ar-AA1ct5wG?li=AAggNb9|
|Canada under more pressure to produce more food, protect agricultural land||2023-Jun-08||The Canadian Press||https://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/topstories/canada-under-pressure-to-produce-more-food-protect-agricultural-land-report/ar-AA1chNeb?li=AAggFp5|
|How shading crops with solar panels can improve farming, lower food costs and||2023-Apr-26||The Conversation||https://theconversation.com/how-shading-crops-with-solar-panels-can-improve-farming-lower-food-costs-and-reduce-emissions-202094|
|How Seed Diversity can help protect our food||2023-Mar-30||Yale Climate Connections||https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2023/03/how-seed-diversity-can-help-protect-our-food-as-the-world-warms/|
|How to be a Farmer in a Climate Emergency!||2023-Feb-07||The Tyee||https://thetyee.ca/Culture/2023/02/07/Farmer-Climate-Emergency/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_term=intro&utm_source=The+Tyee&utm_campaign=2438d38728-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2023_02_08_04_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_979b7d233e-2438d38728-%5BLIST_EMAIL_ID%5D|
|Edmonton couple turn basement into an underground garden||2023-Jan-18||CTV News||https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/edmonton-couple-turn-basement-into-an-underground-garden-1.6236688?fbclid=IwAR0JUfaObB5BAXqOefVeolKa8b9Yb502yrJVe80Hu5a29qgI71a-rt_73_E|
|A whirlwind of business as farm bounty arrives late due to cold wet spring||2022-Aug-09||Times Colonist||https://www.timescolonist.com/local-news/a-whirlwind-of-business-as-farm-bounty-arrives-weeks-late-after-plenty-of-worry-5674572|
|Extreme weather events have strained farmers mental health but asking for help is still a hurdle for many||2022-May-07||CBC||https://www.cbc.ca/radio/whatonearth/extreme-weather-events-have-strained-farmers-mental-health-but-asking-for-help-still-a-hurdle-for-many-1.6440391|
|Central Saanich philanthropic farmer plants seeds for food security||2021-Feb-06||Saanich News||https://www.saanichnews.com/news/central-saanich-philanthropic-farmer-plants-seeds-for-food-security/|
|Initiative of the Victoria Food Hub Society In a Greenhouse||Est. in 2020||South Island Food Farm Hub Store||https://www.sifarmhub.ca/|
|Restoration and Stewardship Fostering Fostering New Farmers||Est. in 2019||Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture||https://www.sandowncentre.com/|
|Farmers in the Netherland are Growing Food organic food in less space via hydroponic farming||2019-Nov-27||World Economic Forum||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5clOYWsNhhk|
|How to Grow Food During The Winter In a Greenhouse||2016-Jan-11||Walden Labs – Solutions for Self-Reliance||https://waldenlabs.com/winter-growing-in-a-greenhouse/|
|Five Northern Greenhouse Projects||2015-Apr-26||Walden Labs – Solutions for Self-Reliance||http://waldenlabs.com/5-northern-greenhouse-examples/|
|A farmer to farmer educational resource network for new and young ecological, organic, regenerative farmers in Canada||Est. in 2012||The Young Agrarians||https://youngagrarians.org|
|EXTREME CLIMATE CHANGE EVENTS ACCELERATING AT AN ALARMING RATE FINAL IPCC SYNTHESIS REPORT 2023:|
|Final Report reveals scientists underestimated how rapidly climate change is accelerating!||2023-Mar-01||International Panel on Climate Change||https://www.ipcc.ch/ar6-syr/|
|Atmospheric Rivers becoming so intense we need to rank them like Hurricanes!||2023-Apr-27||The Weather Network||https://www.theweathernetwork.com/en/news/climate/impacts/atmospheric-rivers-becoming-so-intense-we-need-to-rank-them-like-hurricanes|
|“Northeastern Salish Sea Temperatures Boiling Kelp Alive!||2023-Jul-21||CHEK News||https://www.cheknews.ca/northeastern-salish-sea-temperatures-boiling-kelp-alive-1161482/|
|The Heatwave is a climate omen but it’s not too late to change course!||2023-Jul-19||The Guardian||https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jul/19/heatwave-climate-omen-change-course-weather-models?CMP=share_btn_tw|
|Fire burns larger than most countries on the planet – 25 million acres and counting in Canada & officials can’t stop it! 900 wildfires burning and it’s only July!||2023-Jul-17||CNN||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CupQDkGZ4lw|
|Longer, hotter heat waves drive turbo charged climate change||2023-Jul-17||The Guardian||https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jul/17/longer-hotter-heatwaves-driven-turbo-charged-climate-change-scientists?CMP=share_btn_tw|
|RED ALERT! The worlds hottest week on record & more to come!||2023-Jul-16||The Guardian||https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jul/16/red-alert-the-worlds-hottest-week-ever-and-more-is-to-forecast-to-come|
|We are Not Prepared – Disasters Spread as Climate Change Strikes!!!||2023-Jul-15||Politico||https://www.politico.com/news/2023/07/14/we-are-not-prepared-disasters-spread-as-climate-change-strikes-00106439|
|Extreme Heat Wave in 16 Cities in Italy.Temperature up to 49 degrees C!||2023-Jul-15||The Guardian||https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jul/15/europe-heatwave-red-alerts-italy-cities-weather?CMP=share_btn_tw|
|ER doctors weigh in on what extreme heat does to the body||2023-Jul-15||NBC News||https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/extreme-heat-temperatures-human-body-doctors-insights-rcna94241|
|Hell on Earth – Arizona almost unlivable with 37 deg. heat wave||2023-Jul-14||The Guardian||https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jul/14/phoenix-heatwave-summer-extreme-weather-arizona|
|Emergency Minister engages Canadian Military to help fight BC wildfires!||2023-Jul-14||CTV News||https://bc.ctvnews.ca/canadian-military-being-sent-to-help-fight-b-c-wildfires-emergencies-minister-says-1.6480699|
|How climate change is pushing oxygen out of the worlds oceans||2023-Jul-14||Popular Science||https://www.popsci.com/environment/ocean-deoxygenation-climate-change/|
|“There’s no such thing as a disaster-resistant place anymore”||2023-Jul-13||VOX||https://www.vox.com/climate/2023/7/13/23792409/floods-vermont-new-york-natural-disaster-insurance-global-climate-risk-change|
|Fires, floods and deadly heat are the alarm bells for a planet on the brink||2023-Jul-12||Washington Post||https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2023/07/12/climate-change-flooding-heat-wave-continue/|
|In the last seven days B.C. has seen 51,000 lightning strikes, with 76% of those concentrated in the Northwest & Prince George starting up to 400 new wildfires!||2023-Jul-11||The Weather Network||https://www.theweathernetwork.com/en/news/weather/severe/b-c-wildfire-fighter-killed-responding-to-blaze-outside-revelstok|
|Europe on the verge of water catastrophe as groundwater||2023-Jan-29||Scientific American||https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/scientists-have-been-underestimating-the-pace-of-climate-change/|
|Why scientists are using the word scary over climate crisis!||2022-Nov-22||The Guardian||https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/07/why-scientists-are-using-the-word-scary-over-the-climate-crisis?CMP=share_btn_tw|
|Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change||2019-Aug-19||The Independent||https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/water-drought-climate-change-b2271366.html|