Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Invited - Oral Presentation Session
Catherine Kyle (University of British Columbia Okanagan)
Kelowna, British Columbia, is one of many cities in the world where the risk of severe, seasonal flooding is escalating due to climate change. Despite being built on a former floodplain, flooding had been an occasional but manageable issue prior to 2017, when the city experienced severe flooding along one of the local creeks and the foreshore of Okanagan Lake. In this paper we review the historical ecology of the flood plain, the means by which it was systematically dismantled by European settlers beginning the nineteenth century, and the opportunities that have emerged recently for a new approach to flood management. The City of Kelowna is now providing support for creek and wetland restoration projects as a flood control and climate change mitigation strategy. Given the extreme loss of biodiversity in the region over the past century, and the high number of endangered species, support for a strategy of retreat and restore, rather than construction of more hard infrastructure, appears to be gaining traction. In this paper we describe current and proposed changes underway in Kelowna but within a global framework that evaluates these changes in relation to climate change and the challenges of the anthropocene.