Water supply was listed as the number one environmental issue for residents in 10 neighbourhoods in the Cowichan Valley in a recent survey conducted by the Cowichan Climate Change Collaborative.
The CCCC is a partnership of community groups, including Social Planning Cowichan, that is working on local responses to climate impacts.
The group conducted the survey over the summer in the 10 neighbourhoods, and intends to continue their survey and work in other local neighbourhoods in the coming months and years.
Spokeswoman Summer Goulden told North Cowichan’s council at its meeting on Oct. 4 that extreme weather events like droughts and flooding and local air quality also rated high as issues of concern in the survey.
“It is clear that people have a general belief that things will get worse as we progress throughout time,” she told council.
“If we can find ways to communicate this urgency now, we can encourage people to start making changes in their lives now, which will make adapting down the road less of a challenge.”
According to the report on the survey, many climate change studies explore how people can expect their physical environment to change in coming years, affecting many areas such as local food production, damage to infrastructure, flooding, sea level rise, forest fires, pollution and native species loss.
“We are interested in exploring the social implications of climate change, or the social factors that make us either more vulnerable or more resilient to climate change,” according to the CCCC’s report.
“Ultimately, we discovered through conversations with people all over the Cowichan Valley that what our residents really want is community. They want to feel connected to one another, because with that connection comes a greater sense of belonging, security, and overall happiness, as well as the ability to work together on solutions to the problems they face.”
The report concluded that by connecting the members of the Valley’s many communities together in meaningful ways, opportunities will be created to share knowledge and experience to combat the impacts of climate change, as well as to share the “unique resources” each person possesses.
Goulden said among its next steps, the CCCC will work with neighbourhoods in developing projects that are of interest to them to help combat climate change, including building community gardens and rainwater-catchment systems, as well as developing emergency preparedness kits.
“Our pilot year is complete and now we’re putting together our plans for the next three years,” she said.