Climate change resiliency – Manitoba Eco Network

Thriving in the face of climate change

Mitigation is often top of mind when considering climate change, but building resiliency is equally as important. A new project from the Manitoba Eco-Network is implementing ideas about how to create thriving, resilient communities in the face of a changing climate.

Allie Caporale, resource manager with the Manitoba Eco-Network, is organizing and coordinating the Climate Change Resiliency Project, a partnership between Manitoba Eco-Network and a group of local community organizations that is supported by The Winnipeg Foundation. The project’s goal is to prepare for the effects of climate change while shedding light on how environmental issues can intersect with social and economic challenges.

“We want to see more walkable places, with a ‘people first’ mindset,” says Caporale. “We want people to be able to have jobs that are close to their homes. That improves resiliency and people’s sense of control over their lives, their sense of agency and sense of ownership over their own community.”

The project got started in early 2020, as the pandemic began to unfold. The first step involved collaborating with non-profit and non-governmental organizations across Manitoba to assess the state of climate resilience planning, identify gaps, and gather perspectives. The results were compiled into “The Will is the Way,” a report outlining the importance of political will and funding in climate resilience efforts.

Step two began in April 2021, and focused on translating these findings into concrete plans. This phase involved working closely with community partners, including West Broadway Community Organization, the West End Resource Centre, and Spence Neighbourhood Association. Two focus areas emerged from these discussions; the importance of green space and supporting residents during extreme weather events.

According to Caporale, this project will create low-cost, community-driven solutions like greenspaces and cooling centers. “It’s really difficult to get trees to survive in an urban environment,” she says. “Tree canopy health is probably our top priority, so we are looking at developing infrastructure that would allow green things to grow, like trellises that can provide shade. I’m very much cheered by the effectiveness of something as simple as a tree.”

Caporale and her team of students from the University of Winnipeg actively included neighbourhoods in designing and implementing solutions tailored to their specific needs. She believes cities should prioritize peoples’ safety, comfort and well-being over cars and other infrastructure. This approach reaffirms that resilient communities are more sustainable and equitable.

“During the past few years, The Manitoba Eco-Network has really taken more of an environmental justice angle. Environmental protection includes protecting the well-being of all humans,” explains Caporale. “Especially because the people who are most impacted by environmental problems tend to be the poorest and tend to be of Indigenous identity. It’s not fair that these folks must endure worse environmental impacts.”

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