Whitehorse considers adaptation

If you can't mitigate climate change then you may as well adapt to it.

If you can’t mitigate climate change then you may as well adapt to it.

Following this philosophy, the city’s two-year-long community adaptation project will identify ways it can make itself more resilient to the changing environment.

“We want to identify where the risks are and what opportunities exist to deal with them,” said local climate change specialist, John Streicker, the project co-ordinator.

In the first year, Streicker will analyze how the city is being affected by climate changes. In the second, he’ll single out measures the city should be taking to accommodate itself.

“If we had a storm that cut off the Alaska Highway, how would we address that here?” said Streicker.

“One way would be to fly a bunch of food into the city, which contributes to climate change, another way would be to encourage local food production.”

A local project-advisory team will look at how variable precipitation and rising temperatures are leading to forest fires, floods, denser snowpack and more frequent storms.

Then they will find ways to incorporate changes into existing processes.

“If I found that flooding was a problem in a certain part of the city, and if the city needed to replace the sewer system in that area anyway, then we could look at ways to improve rain drainage and runoff at the same time,” said Streicker.

Streicker will be working with the city’s sustainability co-ordinator as well as soliciting input and support from territorial and First Nation governments.

“What we’re trying to do in Whitehorse is develop sound strategies to deal with the vulnerabilities,” said Ryan Hennessey, the community adaptation project’s manager, who is overseeing similar projects in three different Yukon regions.

Dawson City was the first community to be studied.

Now a year into the project, Dawson City is preparing to release a draft adaptation plan of its findings.

Melting permafrost, spruce bark beetle and local food production are some of the issues that topped the report.

“It was a surprise to see just how warm the permafrost (below the city of Dawson) is,” said Sebastian Jones, co-ordinator for the town’s adaptation project.

In some places the permafrost is half a degree below freezing posing the risk of sinking buildings and streets turning to muck.

However, the prospects of climate change aren’t all negative, said Jones.

“There could easily be opportunities because of the warmer, snowier winters. Dawson may be a more attractive place for winter tourism,” said Jones.

One of the projects Dawson is hoping to get off the ground as a result of the adaptation plan is a science centre that will offer a public place to showcase the effects of climate change in the North.

Another is a community greenhouse, said Jones.

The Whitehorse community adaptation project will be officially launched at the end of July.

The project is funded by Northern Climate ExChange and Northern Strategic Trust, a multi-million-dollar federal fund with the purpose of increasing sustainability in the North.

Contact Vivian Belik at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Calvin Delwisch poses for a photo inside his DIY sauna at Marsh Lake on Feb. 18.
Yukoners turning up the heat with unique DIY sauna builds

Do-it-yourselfers say a sauna built with salvaged materials is a great winter project

Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Most Read