The Prince George region is susceptible to climate change and its impacts. Over the years, Prince George has experienced the consequences of the mountain pine beetle, forest fires, and flooding events. The City and
UNBC researchers began studying and planning for the impacts of climate change in the region. Between 2008 and 2010, their activities included assessing climate change scenarios for the region, identifying potential climate change impacts and options for adaptation, and exploring options for incorporating climate change adaptation into the City's planning processes.
The City of Prince George partnered with the
Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium to prepare a comprehensive overview of past climate changes and future projections for the region. Read the report on
Climate Change in Prince George: Summary of Past Trends and Future Projections.
The City is continuing to work on strategies that include mitigation, as well as adapting to climate change. Mitigation includes strategies that reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) and the "carbon footprint" of City operations and the community, while adaptation describes strategies that address the impacts or effects of climate change such as flooding, wildfires, and damage to roads.
Reducing Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The City of Prince George is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, and Council approved a
Carbon Neutral Plan in 2010. The City is committed to using energy resources efficiently while reducing consumption through cost-effective energy management and the introduction of appropriate energy efficiency and renewable energy procedures and technologies. The City of Prince George
Energy Efficiency and GHG Reduction Policy was approved by Council in 2010.
Partners for Climate Protection
The City of Prince George joined the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM)
Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program in 2002. This program provides a framework for participating municipalities to define goals for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions. Prince George's plan included actions to be implemented at the corporate level (i.e. the municipality's operations) as well as at the community level.
The PCP program is based on a five-milestone framework used to guide municipalities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Milestone 1: Create a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Forecast
Milestone 2: Set a Reduction Target
Milestone 3: Develop a Local Action Plan
Milestone 4: Implement a Local Action Plan
Milestone 5: Measure Progress and Report Results
The City of Prince George achieved Milestone 5 of the PCP Program in 2011 and was one of the first five communities in Canada to achieve this Milestone. Read the
Milestone 4 & 5 Report. This report provides updates on Corporate Energy and GHG Management Initiatives that were identified in the
Milestone 3: Energy and Greenhouse Gas Management Plan.
Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP)
Climate action is a key provincial priority and local governments are partners in helping to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and create complete, compact, and energy-efficient communities.
The Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP) is a conditional grant program that provides funding to BC Climate Action Charter signatories equivalent to 100% of the carbon taxes they pay directly. This funding supports local governments in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move forward on achieving their Charter goals.
The City of Prince George reports corporate greenhouse gas emissions and actions to reduce these emissions annually to the Province. Read the City of Prince George annual CARIP reports:
Learn more about CARIP.
Corporate Energy Management
The City of Prince George is continuously working towards increasing energy efficiency and decreasing greenhouse gases. Here are some City energy management projects that are saving energy:
Downtown Renewable Energy System
Originally built in 2012, this system now delivers heat to 11 buildings throughout downtown including the Law Courts, City Hall, the Wood Innovation and Design Centre, and the RCMP detachment on Victoria Street. The fuel for the system comes from Lakeland Mills, which burns sawmill residue to heat water, which is then distributed through a piping system throughout the downtown. Using a renewable fuel – biomass – instead of a fossil fuel – natural gas – has the effect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by close to 2,000 tonnes per year. Learn more about
Prince George Aquatic Centre Boiler Upgrade
The Aquatic Center boilers were upgraded to condensing boilers saving 4380 GJ per year which is equivalent to heating 42 homes for an entire year
RCMP Building Solar Wall
The solar wall at the RCMP detachment downtown preheats air for the building saving 150 GJ of energy per year. This is equivalent to 4500 litres of gasoline. In 2015, Prince George won the Community Energy Association's Climate and Energy Action award in recognition of the significant energy=reduction initiatives in the RCMP building.
CN Centre Lighting Upgrade
The CN Centre Arena lighting was upgraded to LED, saving 250,000 kWh per year. This is equivalent to the annual electricity use of 23 homes.
In 2004, the City of Prince George identified opportunities to reduce fleet fuel costs, and at the same time develop a program to help improve air quality. An Anti-idling Campaign was created to help the City meet its environmental objectives in the areas of greenhouse gas emission reduction, improved air quality, energy use conservation, noise reduction, and efficient resource use (the lessening of wear and tear on vehicles). A community wide Vehicle Idle-Free Program was developed to educate businesses, local government, educational institutions, and residents on the benefits of implementing an Idle-Free program for their fleets and personal vehicles, to increase fuel efficiencies, and to reduce harmful vehicle emissions.
City Fleet Idling Policy was approved by Council in 2010 to reduce unnecessary idling of vehicles used by city operations, transit buses, contractors' equipment, and residents within the community.
The City of Prince George shares a 100% electric vehicle, a Nissan Leaf, through an Memorandum of Understanding with the Fraser Fort-George Regional District, Northern Health, and the University of Northern British Columbia. The vehicle has proven to be a reliable, zero-emission fleet vehicle.
In December 2016, the City of Prince George joined the Fleet Champions Program as an On-Ramp Partner and pledged to "Evaluate Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEVs) as part of all fleet purchases and leases (including, but not requiring, piloting the use of a small number of ZEVs) AND annually revisiting this pledge to consider a higher ZEV procurement goal."
Adapting to Climate Change
Climate change adaptation involves preparing for the impacts a community is expecting to experience, and making it more resilient to unexpected changes. The City has made adjustments in response to many climate-related impacts, and these impacts are expected to intensify over at least the next 50 years even if extensive mitigation occurs. It is important for a community to proactively plan for changes in order to avoid costly consequences such as infrastructure damage and risks to safety, and to capitalize on any potential positive benefits such as longer growing seasons.
Since 2007, the City has been working with many partners to examine future temperature and precipitation projections, and to determine how they should affect the City. Over the past 90 years, average temperatures in Prince George have risen by 1.1°C, and overnight minimum temperatures have risen by 2.0 °C. In the 2050s, temperatures are projected to increase by 1.6 to 2.5 °C (compared to baseline temperatures), and precipitation levels are expected to rise by 3 to 10% (with most of the precipitation increase occurring in winter). Given the range of future projections and the uncertainty of predictions, it is important to plan for resiliency to account for changes and events.
Community Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
Prince George is taking actions to address changes in forests in both its municipal parks and the natural areas within and surrounding the City. A recent flood risk assessment incorporated future climate projections and recommended adjustments to account for the impacts of climate change and the mountain pine beetle. Research is ongoing to assess how to better design and maintain roads in changing conditions. Other ongoing projects include examining climate change and local sensitive ecosystems, and analyzing freeze-thaw cycles and precipitation events. Future projects can explore how the City can take advantage of the agricultural opportunities associated with a longer growing season, how to manage storm-water for changing conditions, and how to concurrently adapt to and mitigate climate change.
The top adaptation priorities are presented in the tables below:
|Forests||Increased forest fires and insect outbreaks|
|Flooding||Property damage with more frequent floods|
|Transportation infrastructure||More potholes with increased freeze thaw events|
|Severe weather / emergency response||Maintenance of transportation infrastructure during severe weather events|
|Water supply||Water shortages as a result of drought|
|Slope stability||Threat of erosion and landslides|
|Stormwater||Threat of overflowing systems during storm events|
|Building and utilities||Impacts of higher temperature on building materials and structural stability|
|Health||Increased heat waves threatening vulnerable populations|
|Agriculture||Increased agriculture opportunities in the region|
|New residents and business||Population growth as a result of 'climate refugees' migrating north|
Read the full
Adaptation Strategy or watch the video on the Prince George Adaptation Process Summary.
Implementing Climate Change Adaptation in Prince George
Through funding provided by the Natural Resources Canada, the Adaptation Strategy was incorporated into the Official Community Plan. Read the executive summary about
Implementing Climate Change Adaptation in Prince George.
The funding also provided for research on local impacts and adaptation strategies:
Forests - The City is taking many actions to mitigate fire risk locally and prevent urban-wildland interface fires. Local staff is already considering the tree species that should be planted in parks to prepare for changes and to make the City more resilient to pest outbreaks. Learn more by reading the
the forests executive summary, or watching the
Flooding- In 2009 Prince George underwent a detailed flood risk analysis to help prepare for spring floods on the Fraser River and ice jam events along the Nechako. The City had climate change projections incorporated into the assessment, and the final recommendation was to include an extra 0.6 m of freeboard allowance (i.e. vertical distance above the flood plain) to account for future changes related to climate change and the mountain pine beetle. Learn more by reading the
the flooding executive summary, or watching the
Transportation- Prince George has partnered with experts from the University of Waterloo to investigate how to design and maintain roads to better account for climate change. Ongoing work includes an assessment of how climate change affects road safety, road conditions, and vehicle crashes. Learn more by reading the
the transportation executive summary, or watching the
Sensitive Ecosystems - Prince George initiated a sensitive ecosystems and
Natural Areas Mapping project in 2010, and decided to incorporate an extra element investigating how climate change affects natural areas within the City. The exercise identifies areas that are sensitive to future changes, and can help the City decide where to conserve natural spaces and where to develop. Learn more by reading the
sensitive ecosystems report or watching the sensitive ecosystems video.
Natural Areas Mapping
The City of Prince George is often referred to as a city within the forest because of the abundance of trees and forested areas within and around the municipal boundary. These extensive forests and natural areas, including wetlands, riparian areas, grasslands, parks, and greenbelts provide many benefits including recreation, aesthetic values, helping with air and water quality, and many important ecosystem and habitat functions. Natural areas provide habitat to hundreds of species of animals and plants and smaller organisms.
It is important to understand our natural areas when we set policies for long term growth and development and make decisions on land use. This is particularly important where "sensitive" or "rare" ecosystems are identified and where climate change may affect certain ecosystems more than others. Natural areas mapping helps to make more informed choices and will help in long term planning (e.g. Official Community Planning), watershed planning, wildfire hazard mitigation, neighbourhood planning and building strategies to address impacts from our climate changing climate. The data and mapping developed may also foster research projects, education opportunities and monitoring interests from UNBC and CNC.
The Natural Areas project was initiated in 2010 and was completed in four phases:
- Mapping natural areas using standardized Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping (TEM) and Sensitive Ecosystem Mapping (SEI);
- Assessing climate change impacts on natural areas;
- Simplifying ecosystem mapping for general use and uploading to PGMap, and;
- Developing management strategies and best management practices.
Check out the
Case Study Report. As a part of this project, several maps were created to indicate the impacts of climate change on sensitive ecosystems, soil moisture, and local trees species. If you are interested in viewing these maps or any additional reports from the project please
What can I do about Climate Change?
Practice Energy Conservation
The City of Prince George wants to help you find the opportunities to save energy at home and at work. Being energy efficient saves money and decreases greenhouse gasses. Follow these tips to help decrease your energy usage:
- Put on a sweater or grab an extra blanket instead of cranking up the heat.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with energy efficient CFLS or LEDS. These use less energy and last longer!
- Unplug home chargers and small appliances when they are not in use.
- Wash your clothes in cold water and hang to dry.
- Run your dishwasher only when it's full, and skip the drying cycle. If washing dishes by hand, rinse dishes in cold water.
- Try lowering your thermostat temperature overnight and when you are away from your home. Programmable thermostats help make this easier by automatically adjusting the temperature to preset levels.
- Adjust blinds to deflect heat in the summer and keep heat in during the winter.
- Turn down your hot water heater by a couple degrees.
For more information on energy saving tips, "How-To" videos, and energy efficiency rebates visit:
Reduce Waste Production
Many types of garbage, such as plastics, disposable diapers, and Styrofoam, can remain in the environment for over 1000 years. Making decisions to produce less waste, by recycling, composting, and opting for bio-degradable or compostable materials can decrease our environmental footprint.
Compostable materials, such as food products and yard waste, can make up more than 30% of household waste. Composting is a natural process that occurs when plant materials break down and can be done in your own backyard. Backyard compost can replace expensive chemical fertilizers and allow your yard and garden to flourish. To learn more about composting check out the
Recycling and Environmental Action Planning Society (REAPS) Compost Demonstration Garden in Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park.
Learn more about
City of Prince George Garbage and Recycling.