Building Community Resilience through GMA Comprehensive Planning

Dr. Tammi Laninga

During the 2020-21 academic year, Whatcom County partnered with Western Washington University’s Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) to support consistent and coordinated climate planning across jurisdictional boundaries within Whatcom County. This partnership, with staff support from the Port of Bellingham and the City of Bellingham, formed the collaborative Building Community Resilience Project (BCRP) to support Whatcom County Small cities in climate planning efforts. Specifically, students recommended climate change goals, policies, and objectives to be adopted into various elements of the cities’ Growth Management Act (GMA) Comprehensive Plans (GMA-CPs). Participating jurisdictions in 2020-21 were the cities of Blaine, Everson, Ferndale, Lynden, and Nooksack.

The BCRP sought to mitigate deleterious effects of climate change by reducing or preventing greenhouse gas emission through conversion to renewable energy sources, increasing building efficiency, and planning for an uptake of hybrid and electric vehicles. The project sought methods of adaption to climate change effects by reducing regional vulnerability to disasters, such as flood-proofing roadways and critical infrastructure, and implementing prevention and response plans for wildfire, drought, flooding, heat waves, and major storms.

Throughout this project, the SCP supported the participating jurisdictions by performing germane climate impact and climate mitigation research, providing direct support to city staff, and drafting customized planning documents and proposals for each city.

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