Squamish climate response extends from normal district maintenance

Transparency on the district's spending and why it relates to climate


By Caroline Egan

This year Squamish is devoting a quarter of its annual budget to responding to climate change.

The town located on the north end of the Howe Sound near Vancouver is spending $14.3 million on climate response projects, and $8.2 million of that belongs to the Xwu’nekw Park Sea Dike project.

Jenna Stoner, a council member for Squamish, said that the adaptation and mitigation to climate change is one of the biggest issues facing the community. In 2019 the district declared a climate emergency for Squamish.

“We are spending a lot of money on dikes,” said Stoner. “We have five rivers [around Squamish] and we’re an oceanfront community…our diking network and infrastructure needs to be upgraded.”

The Xwu’nekw Park Sea Dike is a big project as it lies along Squamish’s downtown core. It is directly in front of many small businesses and new condo developments.

‘ We look at this project as a way to combat climate change issues.’

Stoner said the project is a huge part of the municipality’s focus and will continue to do so in the future to help protect the developing community in that area.

The District of Squamish website specifically outlines 25 per cent of their budget being allotted to climate response. Councillor Jenna Stoner has been quoted saying that it was dedicated to climate change as well.

David Roulston, manager of municipal infrastructure for the District of Squamish,  said the sea dike is a crucial investment the municipality works on every year. The  dike is meant to resist flooding for the next 100 years based on predicted rising sea levels.

“We look at this project as a way to combat climate change issues. We face a lot of unique challenges with it due to living in the Howe Sound and the storm flooding that affects us,” said Roulston.

One project to help Squamish get to that is adding a methane capture flare. This will “hopefully” bring down greenhouse gases by 20 per cent almost overnight, according to Stoner. This project has not been listed in the 2021 budget outline.

This was in hopes that the targets these outcomes are measured against will be published at a project level.

Squamish holds a meeting at the beginner of each year before a budget is finalized to hear the public’s input on the budget’s spending and general concerns.

The 2021 public budget comments were reported on looking for transparency on the specific outcomes being achieved with the capital investments classified under climate action/ mitigation. This was in hopes that the targets these outcomes are measured against will be published at a project level.

Ian Picketts, manager of sustainability and climate change for the District of Squamish, said the money that the municipality is spending has climate tied to it, and isn’t directly related to it

“It’s not like [the district] said we’re going to spend a quarter of our money on climate change… these are projects that we’re doing that have a strong climate correlation or lens,” Picketts said.

He said climate change is a growing priority for Squamish and that the district is putting “good reporting” on the percentage of the budget being spent on climate change.

He said if someone looks at the budgets from previous years, the amount was not much less than what is being spent in 2021. Squamish has been spending close to the same amount on these projects before this year’s climate response campaign.


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