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Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s to hire climate control officer

The Bell Island ferry MV Flanders can be seen tied up in Portugal Cove due to high winds, one of the conditions being created by climate change in recent years.
The Bell Island ferry MV Flanders can be seen tied up in Portugal Cove due to high winds, one of the conditions being created by climate change in recent years. - Joe Gibbons

Will boost already existing initiatives

A new hire by the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s will be expected to put on their rubber boots and get into the trenches to find ways to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change to the town.

The town was recently awarded a $64,064 grant from the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (MCIP) — a five-year $75-million program delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and funded by the Government of Canada.
“We look forward to continuing our commitment to environmental protection in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s,” Coun. Tina Neary said in a news release.

“Whether it’s encouraging residents to participate in our no idling initiative, hosting the region’s largest environment fair, leading a town-wide community clean-up, or planning for the future of climate change, we do our best to encourage environmental thinking in all the town’s endeavours.

“We look forward to the positive impacts the climate change co-ordinator will make in our town.”

Jeff Lawlor, director of economic development, marketing and communications representative for the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, said the job was posted several weeks ago and the interview process will start this week.

The position is expected to be filled by early June.

“We started this process about seven years ago when we formed a committee here that set out to tackle a host of (climate-change related) projects,’’ he said.

Those projects, he noted, included risk assessments and how Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s would deal with increased precipitation, higher and sustained winds, and rises in sea level.

The new co-ordinator will be a boost to other initiatives already underway, including updating the town’s fleet of vehicles and facilities with an aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s is among 59 communities across Canada benefitting from the grants.

Cindy Day, Saltwire Network’s meteorologist, said climate change can be assessed from two views — both short-term and long-term impacts.

“There are two areas where you will notice changes … and those occur at different rates,’’ Day said.

“In the short term, we have noticed heavier thunderstorms, heavier rain in the past 10-15-year period. Those are changes in intensity.’’

In the long term, Day said experts are looking at sea surface temperatures that cause water levels to rise. Those higher temperatures cause melting of the Arctic ice floes which, in turn, causes a rise in global water levels.

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