Step One: Get Started

"Having a local steering committee helps create community buy-in to project outcomes." - Local Coordinator for the City of Rossland's Adaptation Project 

What You Need To Do

Getting started involves the following seven steps that can be done sequentially or concurrently.

  1. Make the Commitment
  2. Establish a Local Coordinator
  3. Establish a Local Steering Committee
  4. Determine Outcomes and Objectives
  5. Develop a Workplan
  6. Develop an Information Management Strategy
  7. Develop a Project Monitoring Strategy

1. Make the Commitment

The Mayor of Kaslo, Greg Lay, gathers in downtown Kaslo with the adaptation project's Steering Committee and members of the Technical Support Team.Climate change adaptation planning requires a commitment from the local government elected officials and staff. In addition to a local coordinator or consultant, a community can expect to use staff time, budget and community member volunteer hours. As a result, making the commitment to climate change adaptation planning usually requires a resolution from council.

In the Phase 1 and 2 communities, in addition to hiring a local coordinator/consultant, local governments identified a staff member to be the key contact for the process. That key contact can expect to spend at least 10 days on the project. Additional staff and councillors participating in the project can be expected to spend a minimum of between two and four days each over the course of the project. In a larger city, the time requirements may be longer.

2. Establish a Local Coordinator

Local projects are highly dependent upon the local coordinator or consultant that manages the project on behalf of the local government. The local coordinator can be an individual or a team and can be hired from outside the local government or can be an internal staff person. Some communities, such as the City of Castlegar and the City of Rossland, chose to have a local coordinator, but also to hire external consultants to do some of their research and analysis. The choice regarding the local coordinator should meet the needs of the individual community. The local coordinator is responsible for working with the local government, the community, Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) and outside resources to see the project through to completion.

It is expected that the local coordinator will undertake significant work with the community and local government. Thus although consultants living outside the community can work as local coordinators, having a face in the community and the extent to which travel costs could affect the budget are considerations. 

Resource: Recommended Skills and Qualities for a Local Project Coordinator

Community Example: City of Castlegar Request For Proposals for Conducting Vulnerability Assessment of City's Stormwater System

3. Establish a Local Steering Committee

There are many factors to consider in establishing a local steering committee. Having a local steering committee can help ensure local knowledge is brought to the forefront of the project, and create community buy-in to project outcomes. This is the group that the coordinator can bounce ideas off of or seek advice from, and that serves as a network to reach out further into the community.

Time commitments: Different local governments will draw more or less on their steering committees and different steering committees will have differing levels of interest in being involved. Steering committee time commitments can be expected to range from 5 to 10 days over the course of the project.

Terms of reference: Terms of reference should be established for the steering committee to outline their responsibilities, ground rules, protocols for communication and decision-making mechanisms.

Representation: The steering committee should represent different stakeholders in the community so that the process incorporates the diversity of community views. Committees may already exist in the community that can be used for this purpose, such as local government environment committees, sustainability task forces or OCP committees. Different groups that should be represented on steering committees might include:

  • Local government elected officials
  • Local government staff
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Educational groups
  • Youth
  • Recreational groups and/or services
  • Emergency services
  • Opinion leaders and/or other influential community members

Local government departments: It is helpful if all major local government departments have a presence on the committee as adaptation decisions often affect all departments.

Beyond the local level: Some communities will choose to reach beyond the local level. Provincial or federal representatives may be able to offer expertise, knowledge, and guidance with regard to climate-related programs or initiatives beyond the local or regional level.

Community Example: District of Elkford Terms of Reference for Citizen Steering Committee for Adaptation Project and OCP

Community Example: Regional District of Central Kootenay Area D and Village of Kaslo Terms of Reference for Local Steering Committee

Community Example: City of Rossland Steering Committee Terms of Reference 

4. Determine Objectives and Outcomes

There are many ways to approach adaptation planning. To ensure your community achieves its desired outcomes, it is helpful to create objectives at the beginning of the project. This can be done collaboratively with your steering committee and CBT. These objectives will become the framework for your workplan. It might be helpful to address the following questions:

1. What do you want to achieve? List the outcomes you will work toward. Examples include: An adaptation action plan (iwith a shopping list of actions, prioritized actions, or specific theme), adaptation strategies/policies incorporated into the OCP, or a more educated community with regard to climate change impacts and the need for preparedness.

2. What does success look like for you? Examples include: A plan with actions, time lines and commitment from council to implement, a more engaged community, or greater community understanding/acceptance of wildfire management plan.

3. Who needs to be involved in the process for it to be successful for you? Examples include: 50% of council, local government staff, the Chamber of Commerce, youth, or opinion leaders in the community

5. Develop a Workplan

A workplan is a tool to help guide your community's process. It should reflect your stated objectives and outcomes. For each step in the workplan, it is suggested you determine:

  • Who will participate?
  • Who will lead?
  • What type of process will be used?
  • What type of outputs are you striving for?
  • What forms of education, engagement, communication will be utilized?
  • How much time/funding is needed?

Your workplan needs to be flexible to accommodate busy schedules and allow for the introduction of new information that may alter a previous decision.

When working with Columbia Basin Trust, there is an additional responsibility to share, communicate and learn with other Basin Communities. This must be considered in the workplan.

Community Example: City of Castlegar Workplan 

Community Example: City of Rossland Workplan

6. Develop an Information Management Strategy

Managing information is one of the greatest challenges for local coordinators. You will collect a variety of information including: internal meeting minutes, multiple research documents, communication documents, contact lists, and planning documents. At the beginning of the project, try to imagine all the people that will want to access information over the life of the project and carefully consider how you will meet those needs. 

Wikis were used for some community projects for basic information sharing and document storage. Wikis are shared online websites that can be edited by a group of people. They can be private or public. Wikis help reduce email overload when several people are editing a document or commenting on work. Free wikis include  and Google docs is an online storage space for Word and Excel documents that multiple people are working on. You can upload, edit and share documents for free.

7. Develop a Project Monitoring Strategy

CBT requires that you track the information you utilize, documents you prepare, and time and money that your process takes from the beginning. Some things that are important to monitor and record are:

  • Steering committee volunteer time
  • Local government staff and elected official's in-kind hours
  • Coordinator's in-kind hours
  • Any tangible in-kind contributions such as photocopying, hall/office rental space 
  • Media publications and/or broadcasts

Useful Material

Work Planning Presentation to Local Coordinators and Steering Committees on Six-Step Adaptation Planning Process and Climate Change Adaptation - This PowerPoint presentation provides a good overview of CBT's Communities Adapting to Climate Change Initiative and the steps to achieve a useful adaptation action plan.

Key Messages About CBT's Adaptation Initiative and Climate Change Adaptation - This document was produced by CBT as a guideline for 'anyone' to talk about the Communities Adapting to Climate Change Initiative in their communities. It contains some very basic straightforward information in plain language.