What is “climate resilient inclusive design”, why does the Elk Valley need it, and, how can we get there?

Through our work, CAN has witnessed first-hand in the Elk Valley the need for not only inclusive design but also resilience in the face of climate change. We believe that we should optimize for both, thus saving time and money while ensuring enduring accessibility without the need for expensive retrofits. 

CAN is developing a climate resilient inclusive design lens to use for infrastructure projects in the Elk Valley.  For example, CAN is looking forward to providing input via an Advisory Committee to the Fernie Annex Dyke Project https://www.fernie.ca/EN/meta/whats-new/news-archives/2021-archive/active-transportation-infrastructure-grant-awarded.html in order that both resilience and inclusion are built into the project. 

Disability, communities and climate: some facts

  • There are 1.2 billion disabled people in the world. This translated to about 15% of our population here in the Elk Valley who live with a disability.
  • This is an under-estimate as temporary disabilities and ageing are not included. Additionally, many people who live with a disability do not report it due to fear of facing stigma.
  • Disabled people can be disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change; for example, we know that disabled people disproportionately suffered loss of life and health complication during the BC heat waves and the wildfire emergencies of 2021.
  • 60% of the built environment that will exist in 2050 hasn’t been built yet.
  • The construction sector accounts for 38% of energy-related CO2 emissions. Therefore, we cannot afford to cut corners during initial builds; we have to get it right the first time.
  • According to a new report by UNOPS, Infrastructure (energy, transport and buildings) is responsible for 79% of all greenhouse gas emissions and 88% of all adaptation costs, again we cannot afford to not build things right the first time.

What can we do now to bring about a climate resilient and inclusive Elk Valley?

  • Inclusion: Disabled people to be included in conversations about climate futures.
  • Design: Enterprises to be smart about construction and design for resilience and inclusion together. They are interlinked aspects of good design practice.
  • Technology: Invest in Inclusive, assistive and accessible technology that’s locally produced in Canada. https://canasstech.com/?mc_cid=846ca86f94&mc_eid=1f9dba32ff
  • Audits: Projects being retrofitted for climate resilience could be audited and improved for accessibility and inclusion through a multi-party Climate Resilient Inclusive Design Advisory Group
  • Education and Awareness: Inclusive design can be sustainable, and sustainable or resilient design can be inclusive. We want architects, designers and urban planners to come together to inform the interconnectedness of these two conceptsand design with both in mind. Policy-makers and funders need to understand that too.
  • Investment Readiness: Capital investment is available to communities in BC just like the Elk Valley, if they can prove investment readiness with political will, inclusive community attitudes and local skill and capacity.
  • Political Action: Local government need to commit to inclusive and resilient planning.
  • All of the above can be facilitated by founding a Climate Resilient Inclusive Design Advisory Group – let’s get started!
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