The Prince George region is susceptible to climate change and its impacts. Over the years, Prince George experienced the consequences of the mountain pine beetle, forest fires, and flooding. The City and the University of Northern British Columbia researchers began studying and planning for climate change in the region and between 2008 and 2010. Their activities included assessing climate change scenarios, identifying potential climate change impacts and options for adaptation, and exploring how to include climate change adaptation into the City's planning processes. The City of Prince George also partnered with the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium to prepare a comprehensive overview of past climate changes and future projections for the region.
The City is continuing to work on strategies that include mitigating as well as adapting to climate change. Mitigation includes reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the City's and community's "carbon footprint". 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
Council approved a Carbon Neutral Plan in 2010 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and Energy Efficiency and GHG Reduction Policy was also adopted in the same year. The City of Prince George is committed to managing energy resources efficiently while reducing consumption and exploring renewable energy options.
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 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 five-milestone:
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 in 2011 and was one of the first five communities in Canada to do so.
Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP)
Climate action is a key Provincial priority and local governments are partners in helping to reduce greenhouse gas 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 per cent of the carbon taxes they pay directly. This funding supports local governments in their efforts to move forward on achieving their Charter goals.
The City of Prince George sends information to the Province on a yearly basis on its corporate greenhouse gas emissions and actions to reduce these emissions through CARIP reports:
Learn more about the Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program
Corporate Energy Management
Downtown Renewable Energy System
Originally built in 2012, the Downtown Renewable Energy 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 comes from Lakeland Mills, which burns sawmill residue to heat water, which is then distributed through a piping system throughout the downtown area. 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 tons per year.
Prince George Aquatic Centre Boiler Upgrade
The Aquatic Center boilers were upgraded to condensing boilers saving 4,380 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 pre-heats air for the building saving 150 GJ of energy per year. This is equivalent to 4,500 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.
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.
The City Fleet Idling Policy was approved by Council in 2010 to reduce unnecessary idling of vehicles used by city operations, transit buses, contracting equipment, and residents within the community.
The City of Prince George shares a 100 per cent 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 car has proven to be a reliable, zero-emission fleet vehicle.
A new Chevy Bolt was also added to the City fleet in June 2018. The vehicle is expected to save the City around 5,000 litres of gas and nearly 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents over a period of seven years.
Prince George joined the Fleet Champions Program in December 2016 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
Adaptation involves preparing a community to handle climate change and make it more resilient to further, unexpected developments in the coming decades. In the past 90 years, average temperatures in Prince George have risen a little over a degree Celsius and overnight minimum temperatures have increased by two degrees Celsius. Temperatures are expected to increase anywhere from 1.6 to 2.5 degrees Celsius and precipitation levels may rise by up to 10 per cent in the 2050s.
The City has made adjustments in response to many climate-related impacts, which are expected to intensify - even with extensive mitigation - over at least the next 50 years. Planning ahead will allow Prince George to avoid issues like infrastructure damage and risks to safety and to capitalise on any potential positive benefits such as longer growing seasons.
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.
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.
Top adaptation priorities are:
|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|
Implementing Climate Change Adaptation in Prince George
The Adaptation Strategy was incorporated into the Official Community Plan through funding provided by the Natural Resources Canada.
Download the Implementing Climate Change Adaptation in Prince George Executive Summary [PDF]
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 fires. Local staff are 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.
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.
Transportation - Prince George has partnered with experts from the University of Waterloo to investigate how to design and maintain roads to better prepare for climate change. Ongoing work includes an assessment of how climate change affects road safety, road conditions, and vehicle crashes.
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.
Freeze-Thaw and Precipitation - The City hired consultants to look at how freeze-thaw cycles are changing and also how the intensity, duration, and frequency of precipitation events are shifting.
Natural Areas Mapping
The City of Prince George is often referred to as the "City in 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 like recreation, aesthetic values, helping with air and water quality, and many important ecosystem and habitat functions.
It is important to understand natural areas in relation to long-term growth and development in order to make good decisions on land use. This is particularly crucial where "sensitive" or "rare" ecosystems are identified and where climate change may affect certain ecosystems more than others. Natural areas mapping helps with making informed choices on long term planning (e.g. Official Community Planning), watershed planning, wildfire hazard mitigation, neighbourhood planning and building strategies to address climate change.
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.
- Developing management strategies and best management practices.
Download the Natural Areas and Effects of Climate Change Report [PDF]
Several maps were created to indicate the impacts of climate change on sensitive ecosystems, soil moisture, and local trees species. For more information, contact:
Energy, Environment, and Sustainability Division
3990 18th Avenue
Prince George, BC V2N 4R8
What Residents Do About Climate Change?
Practice Energy Conservation
The City of Prince George wants to help residents find opportunities to save energy at home and at work. Being energy efficient saves money and decreases greenhouse gasses. Follow these tips to help decrease 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 the dishwasher only when it's full and skip the drying cycle. If washing dishes by hand, rinse dishes in cold water.
- Try lowering the thermostat temperature overnight and when away from home. Programmable thermostats help make this easier by automatically adjusting the temperature to pre-set levels.
- Adjust blinds to deflect heat in the summer and keep heat in during the winter.
- Turn down the hot water heater by a couple degrees.
For more information on energy saving tips:
Reduce Waste Production
Many types of garbage, such as plastics, disposable diapers, and Styrofoam can remain in the environment for over 1,000 years. Making decisions to produce less waste by recycling, composting, and opting for bio-degradable or compostable materials can decrease the City's environmental footprint.
Compostable materials such as food products and yard waste can make up more than 30 per cent of household waste. Composting is a natural process that occurs when plant materials break down and can be done in the backyard. Backyard compost can replace expensive chemical fertilisers and allow yards and gardens to flourish.
Utilize Alternative Transportation Options
A sustainable lifestyle includes making low-carbon transportation decisions which can contribute to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions such as:
- Taking transit
- Walking or biking
For more information: