Symposium to bring latest climate change science to Manitoulin Island

MANITOULIN—How will a changing climate affect Manitoulin Island and how will the various municipalities and First Nations adapt to climate change? That’s a question that Manitoulin Streams and the Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources (OCCIAR) want Islanders to think about.

In order to communicate the latest science pertaining to climate change and gain an understanding of the challenges facing communities on Manitoulin Island in the context of changing weather and climate, Manitoulin Streams and OCCIAR are hosting a series of four meetings across Manitoulin to facilitate this discussion. Meetings were held earlier this month in Aundeck Omni Kaning and M’Chigeeng First Nation.

“The idea behind the meetings,” explained Jesse Beaudin of Manitoulin Streams, “is to obtain feedback from stakeholders and learn how they would feel about an Island-wide climate change adaptation assessment project.”

“We’ll be showing climate trends, best case and worst case future scenarios,” continued Mr. Beaudin. “We want to lay out potential concerns of our communities and develop action plans from that. We want to look at how  we can adopt certain protocols to adapt to climate change at a local level.”

Mr. Beaudin has been contacting Island municipalities and First Nations to determine negative feelings that exist about climate change and any potential adaptation activities. “We’re asking, ‘how can we approach your community’?” he said.

Al Douglas is director at OCCIAR, located at Laurentian University in Sudbury. He is also lead of the Climate Change Adaption group at Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation in Sudbury, a mining research centre, and was recently added to Canada’s Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Results.

Mr. Douglas approached Manitoulin Streams to partner on this project. OCCIAR has provided initial support for Manitoulin Streams to collect data, research and promote the concept.

He explained how the project would proceed. “The climate change risk assessment would follow a scalable, community-based four phase process that would take stock of: observations of climate change and extreme weather; ways in which we are vulnerable to those changes/events and ways we have coped over the years; with the aid of state-of-the-art, global climate change model data for the Island, gauge the extend to which systems risk will continue into the future; and ways to manage those existing and future risks,” explains the OCCIAR proposal. “The Island-wide assessment will be coordinated by OCCIAR with input from all partners who choose to participate. The collective of observations and impacts will help us better understand how we may be vulnerable to climate change and ultimately, work towards solutions that build resilience to changing climate.”

The next stakeholder information session about climate change on Manitoulin Island will occur on Tuesday, March 20 at the Mindemoya Curling Club. The final session will be in Little Current on Thursday, March 22 at the Northeast Town Recreation Centre.

Attendees will hear a presentation about climate change in Ontario, including how it is impacting the Island, learn how to respond through adaptation, and participate in an open discussion about the proposed Island-wide risk assessment project. This will be followed by a question period.