Victoria is receiving over $15.3 million in federal funds to make its underground infrastructure better able to withstand weather events caused by climate change and natural disasters like earthquakes.
The money, from the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, will go to replacing or refurbishing elements of water distribution, sanitary-sewer collection and storm drains, said Jas Paul, Victoria’s assistant director of engineering.
“A lot of the infrastructure in the City of Victoria is aging, it is 100 years old in some cases,” Paul said. “And what this allows us to do is accelerate replacement of key portions of the system that are more vulnerable to seismic and climate-change risks.”
Retrofitting efforts can include such measures as putting new pipes within existing pipes, he said.
The ultimate goal is to offer better protection to the city’s 86,000 residents and reduce the number of families and businesses going without essential services during potentially damaging events by 95 per cent. The funding was announced Tuesday at the west plaza of the Johnson Street Bridge, with Marc Miller, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, saying that the funds coming to Victoria deal with concerns that are also national in scale.
“The science is clear and troubling,” he said. “Recent scientific studies published by Environment Canada note that Canada’s climate change is warming twice as fast as the global average, posing serious threats to our well-being and the stability of our communities and economy.
“We’re no longer just talking about preventing climate change but about how we need to adapt to the sad and complex reality.”
Across Canada, floods and wildfires being connected to climate change are getting worse and more frequent, Miller said.
“The effects of these extreme-weather events don’t go away overnight,” he said. “They take a major toll on our families and communities.
“We can no longer stand by and wait to shore up our communities against this increasing threat.”
Infrastructure investment has to happen now, Miller said, adding that money coming to Victoria is part of a $2-billion federal investment in disaster mitigation over 10 years, Miller said.
“We know that sea levels are rising along the Pacific coast due to climate change,” he said. “The investment today will ensure that Victoria can thrive and continue to provide essential services like clean drinking water through any extreme weather.
“It will reduce flooding, increase safety and generate long-term savings in damage and replacement costs.”
Victoria Coun. Sarah Potts, the acting mayor, noted that the city recently declared a “climate emergency.”
“We are grateful and excited to be awarded this funding and for the federal government’s support of Victoria’s commitment to tackling the impacts of climate change and building resilience in our community in the face of a changing climate and earthquake risks.”
The money will be spent through 2028, she said.
“Minimizing risks after any natural disaster or damage relies on intact water, sewer and storm-water systems,” Potts said. “So having resilient underground infrastructure will help our emergency-service teams focus on other important aspects of responding to a natural disaster.”