What are some the effects of climate change in Richmond?Rising sea levels
Changes in precipitation patterns
Rising sea levels
Coastal cities and communities all over the world face the challenge of increased sea levels, river flood levels, shoreline erosion and storm impacts resulting from climate change.
This impact of climate change increases the following risks for Richmond residents:
- More severe and more frequent flooding
- Increased demand on City drainage and sewage systems
- Loss of critical shoreline ecosystems
To protect Richmond from increasing sea levels, and the threat of flooding during combinations of high tides, storm events and/or river freshet flooding, the City is now strengthening and raising the comprehensive system of dikes already in place on Lulu Island. In total, Richmond has 49 km dikes which protect an area of 12,805 ha.
The City of Richmond is also improving its extensive system to drain the storm water produced from local rain and snow events.
The City’s Flood Protection Management Strategy sets a goal to increase the net height of Richmond’s dike system by one metre, sufficient to protect the city from current projections of sea level rise under a wide range of futures out to at least 2100, and the City is currently investing about $12 million annually in diking and drainage infrastructure upgrades to achieve this.
With a shift towards longer, drier summers, the intensity, duration and frequency of wildfires has increased within BC. Although wildfires may occur many hundreds of kilometers away, wildfire smoke can dramatically affect air quality within Richmond and the Lower Mainland. These events typically take place during periods of hot, dry weather in mid-summer.
This impact of climate change increases the following risks for Richmond residents during wildfire air quality events:
- Increased risk of acute respiratory ailments, heart attack and stroke caused by exposure to smoke
- Increased risk of heat stress and heat stroke when building residents who lack air conditioning choose not to ventilate buildings with smoky outdoor air.
Because climate change is likely to increase the overall demand for summertime air conditioning by Richmond residents, City staff are looking to encourage greater use of energy efficient and low-GHG options for space heating and cooling in buildings, such as electrically-powered heat pumps. The City already uses heat pumps to provide low-GHG heating and cooling services to households and business served by the Alexandra District Energy system, and air-source heat pumps will provide heating and cooling to many townhouses and district-energy-ready buildings now under construction in Richmond.
Change in precipitation patterns
Projections of climate change impacts in Metro Vancouver generally indicate that summers will be longer and drier, while winters will be shorter, warmer, and wetter. Plus, the intensity, duration and frequency of extreme rainfall events is projected to increase with global warming. These changes are likely to result in more rain, and more intense rainstorms throughout the year.
These impacts of climate change increases the following risks for Richmond residents:
- Shift towards earlier and more pronounced springtime freshet flood events
- Increased frequency and severity of summertime water restrictions
- Increased likelihood of wildfires
In order to make more efficient use of our freshwater resource, the City provides incentives for residents to replace existing toilets with new water-wise models. The City has implemented water metering for most homes and businesses, significantly reducing water consumption and leaks in Richmond. The City continually upgrades the storm water system to accommodate a shift towards more intense precipitation events.