This year’s recognition of Earth Day and its theme of “Invest in Our Planet” feels more relevant than ever, especially for those in communities impacted by climate catastrophes such as November’s flooding.

Earth Day, which has been recognized in Canada since 1980, looks to bring attention to the issue of our impact on climate change and environmental protection. According to EARTHDAY.ORG, an international environmental organization and the main organizer behind the annual event, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year.

High intensity weather events, such as Lytton wildfires and the atmospheric river that devastated the City of Merritt and other parts of British Columbia in 2021, are becoming increasingly common. A report by Environment Canada, released in February 2022, concluded that climate change made the atmospheric river event at least 60% more likely.

“Climate change is the hardest part for any municipality to plan for,” said Merritt Mayor Linda Brown. “It was definitely a result of climate change. Whether it was forestry, the atmospheric river, or fires, it was still something we could not and did not plan for. We’re looking at about $130 million to fix up what we need to.”

Speaking about the recent $24.25 million in funding from the Province of British Columbia, Brown added “the first stage of the funding is $11 million for housing, and the rest is for projects that will help us prepare better for other climate events, such as diking.”

The provincial government also released a statement this year, with Premier John Horgan and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Hayman jointly addressing the urgent need for action on climate.

“As we join others around the world marking Earth Day, British Columbia continues to deal with the effects of last year’s drought, flooding, wildfires and heat waves, all related to climate change. Those terrible events remind us of the urgent need for action to respond to this ongoing emergency,” read the statement.

Also announced was $10 million in funding towards the CleanBC Plastics Action Fund in their 2022 provincial budget, aiming to reduce the amount of single-use plastics in BC.

Moving forward, both levels of government say they are focused on supporting its residents and taking action on climate change, and building resiliency.