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May. 27, 2022 | Friday
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Brock partners with Niagara municipalities to tackle climate change
Niagara Adapts is a partnership that brings together seven Niagara municipalities — Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, St. Catharines and Welland — with Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) to address climate change. (Brock University/Supplied)

Brock University is launching Niagara Adapts, a new partnership with Niagara-on-the-Lake and other area munipalities, in an attempt to reduce the risks associated with climate change in the region.

With persistent rains and rising lake levels this year sparking fears of flooding, NOTL and other Niagara municipalties have experienced the impact of climate change first-hand.

While local governments see the effects of climate change in their communities, universities can play a critical role by contributing scientific expertise, research and innovation, Brock said in a news release.

“The challenges brought by climate change require that we all must work together,” Brock University president Gervan Fearon said.

“As part of Brock’s new strategic plan, we are committed to collaborating with our local municipalities to enhance the life and vitality of Niagara Region. Together we can better tackle the challenges of climate change and build a more sustainable future for our local communities and beyond.”

The Niagara Adapts partnership brings together seven Niagara municipalities — NOTL, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, Grimsby, Lincoln and Pelham — with the university’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre to address problems caused by climate change.

The partnership aims to build climate resilience in Niagara through a collaboration that can be more efficient through shared resources and expertise than if municipalities go it alone, Brock said in announcing the program.

“You only have to look as far as the flooding threats in the dock area and the declining bee population to know climate change is affecting Niagara-on-the-Lake,” said town spokesperson Victoria Steele.

The program will result in a climate change adaptation plan that is unique to NOTL, she said in a statement.

By the end of the partnership, all municipalities expect to have produced a climate change adaptation plan that builds climate resilience, from flood-proofing homes to increasing climate awareness around Niagara.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be engaging in research grounded here in Niagara that will directly benefit local communities,” said Brock research centre Associate Prof. Jessica Blythe. “It’s the kind of partnership we dream about.”

She said the program is a collaborative process that will identify changes and goals through community engagement over the next two years.

Among the changes she foresees are “integrating climate change awareness into existing programs and communications, and developing education initiatives where gaps exist” for residents, businesses and municipal staff.

As well, Blythe said in a statement that priorities will include showing people, businesses and government how they can “adapt to climate change impacts (e.g. promoting sustainable drainage techniques, improving home flood protection, planting appropriate tree species, emergency preparedness, designing flood resilient communities.”

Ryan Plummer, director of the reseach centre, said everyone benefits from these types of partnerships.

“They embody the spirit of sustainability science and are integrated into the research and service of the (centre), profoundly impacting our students, staff and faculty,” he said.

“At the same time, immense benefits are gained by our partners in terms of capacity building, evidence-based decision-making and leveraging expertise to address sustainability challenges and opportunities.”