Blog Contributor: April Sorenson
I would like to introduce all of you to Shannon Fernandes, the Climate Change Coordinator at the Town of Lincoln. Shannon is helping Lincoln become a more resilient community by developing and implementing a climate change adaptation plan for the Town. Shannon graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Environmental Studies in Sustainability Management. She has experience in environmental consulting, community outreach and sustainable supply chain management. She is passionate about social and environmental sustainability, community engagement and making a positive impact on the world. In the questions below, Shannon explains her goals for the Town of Lincoln, the challenges she faces in her role, and the climate change adaptation progress in the Town.
What are your main responsibilities as the Climate Change Coordinator?
My main responsibility as the Climate Change Coordinator is to focus on the planning and implementation of municipal climate change priorities. Primarily, this involves working closely with staff to develop the Town’s climate adaptation plan. Additionally, I contribute to several projects such as developing Green Infrastructure / Low-Impact Development Design Standards, participating in Niagara Adapts, and conducting community outreach.
What is your primary goal for the Town of Lincoln?
My primary goal for the Town of Lincoln is to build the Town’s capacity to adapt to climate change and extreme weather and to continue Lincoln’s efforts to develop a sustainable and livable community. In order to strengthen our ability to adapt and respond, it is important that we collaborate on innovative approaches for climate change adaptation, ground those approaches in municipal and academic expertise, and build relationships across sectors.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your role?
The biggest challenge I face in my role is encouraging climate change literacy. It is important that staff and citizens understand the science, risks, vulnerabilities, and opportunities associated with climate change impacts in Lincoln.
To address this challenge, Lincoln partnered with Niagara municipalities and Brock University (through Niagara Adapts), which allows us to leverage resources and expertise, enable collaborative adaptation planning, reach out to residents and staff through surveys, and promote climate change awareness and action. It has been an incredible opportunity for Lincoln to be a part of this initiative and I look forward to continuing to work and learn alongside our communities, academic partners, and neighbours.
What are the greatest challenges Lincoln faces as a Town in regard to climate change?
Given the local nature of many climate impacts, like floods, extreme weather, heat alerts, or drought conditions, the Town’s greatest challenge is being the front line to manage risks, protect community safety, and promote economic, social, and environmental sustainability. To ensure the plan is robust enough to address the varied impacts of climate change, the climate adaptation plan will be primarily informed by diverse subject matter experts comprising the Adaptation Steering Committee. It is important that every department – Public Works, Community Services, Planning, Emergency Management, and Tourism and Economic Development – is involved in the process.
What is the most important thing citizens of the Town can do to alleviate climate change?
There is a lot that Lincoln citizens can do to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Firstly, installing green infrastructure to prevent stormwater from running down driveways and into storm drains is a great way to prevent flooding on your property; collecting water in rain barrels and water gardens also saves money on water bills. Disconnecting downspouts and planting rain gardens or trees are great ways to both mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Small actions include reducing single–use plastics, conserving water, upgrading bulbs to LEDs, eating more plant-based meals, or taking public transit. In Niagara we have an abundance of growers and shopping locally is an excellent way to reduce environmental and water footprints.
Lastly, stay engaged! Talk to family members, friends, and neighbours about climate change, participate in community events, visit lincoln.ca to participate in surveys, public information nights, and council meetings about climate change. Elected officials need to know that climate change action is important to you.
Can you tell us more about the climate change adaptation plan that is underway at the Town of Lincoln?
The purpose of a climate adaptation plan is to prepare the Town of Lincoln to adapt to anticipated climatic change and extreme weather, thereby minimizing the severity of the resulting impacts. This will be achieved in the following manner: identification of the potential impacts related to climate change and extreme weather in Lincoln and the risk they pose to the Town, prioritized adaptation actions to reduce risk and vulnerability associated with climate change and extreme weather impacts, and the development of a detailed implementation plan.
Input will be gathered from staff, Niagara Adapts, Council, the Stakeholder Advisory Group, and Lincoln citizens and businesses on an ongoing basis.