Hotter temperatures are a familiar symptom of climate change. Another is extreme precipitation – intense bouts of heavy rainfall that can damage private homes AND civic infrastructure. In North Vancouver, community workshops help the public understand the challenges municipalities face with issues such as extreme weather and offer a chance to collaborate on potential solutions. See how the city of North Vancouver works with the non-profit Evergreen to engage residents in this informal yet productive setting.
More Rain, All at Once
These North Vancouver residents have come to City Hall on a rainy October night, to discuss the impacts of climate change on their community’s watershed. Ben Cross from the City’s Engineering Parks & Environment department tells them what they can expect in the coming decades.
“We are going to see more water in total, it’s also going to come more ‘at once’. So rather than seeing it spread out over several days, it’s going to come all at once.”
Following the presentations, participants split into small groups, brainstorming ways the city can address the impacts of climate change.
Inspiration and Solutions
“I am hoping that people will leave the workshop feeling a little more positive and inspired that they can do things in their own home,” says Dana McDonald, Evergreen’s Manager of Greenspace Programs. “(that) there are changes that individuals can make and communities can make. As well, the city of North Vancouver is hoping to become more informed about the ideas that citizens have for changes in their own neighbourhood so that the community and the city can work together to adapt.”
A Venue for Many Voices
Amy Greenwood is a North Vancouver resident participating in the workshop.
“I think giving individuals a voice and allowing them to see the process is an essential part to building active and true participation. And as you can see from who is here it’s a wide spectrum, it’s not just one segment of the community. There’s a number of different backgrounds and experiences that are here.”
Informality Delivers Congeniality
North Vancouver mayor Darrell Mussatto highlights the value of engaging with constituents on an informal basis.
“It brings out a real positive participant. We’ve got people that want to come in and be involved in the city. Public hearings and workshops are much different. A public hearing is very formal, very official, very rigid. The more positive workshop sessions where we work with Evergreen and other societies is much more collaborative. It’s easier to speak with people, to voice your concerns in a non-confrontational way.”
Big Topics Get a Personal Perspective
Dana McDonald believes the process offers participants an accessible method of tackling a big topic.
“If you can put information in the context of an individual’s home or neighbourhood, or city, it’s often a little easier to digest than big sweeping statements about what climate change will look like.”