The city of Boston has made significant strides in preparing for major natural disasters, rising sea levels and other impacts to the ever-changing climate, Mayor Martin Walsh said on the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.
Speaking at the Architecture Boston Expo at the Boston Convention Center last week, Walsh pointed to ways the city has addressed a number of climate change “vulnerabilities” outlined in a 2013 report.
He said a $1.3 million state grant will help pay for solar power arrays to provide backup power at four city emergency shelters. A city-commissioned “food resilience” study will look at how Boston’s food production, storage and transportation resources might be impacted by climate change. And he said the city has entered a new arrangement with insurance company FM Global to suggest solutions to flooding, high wind and other risks to Boston’s 33 largest buildings.
The mayor promised his administration will release a more detailed report about its climate change efforts in November.
Superstorm Sandy largely spared the Boston area but caused more than $65 billion in damage and resulted in at least 182 deaths in the U.S. when it struck in 2012, making it one of the nation’s costliest hurricanes.
At the architecture conference, Walsh and other regional city and town officials said they would hold a half-day summit at the University of Massachusetts-Boston this spring to help prepare the metropolitan region for any adverse impacts from climate change.
Walsh also launched “Boston Living with Water,” a new international design competition by the city that’s focused on generating “climate change-resilient” solutions for three specific at-risk waterfront locations: Fort Point Channel area in South Boston, the Prince Building in the North End and Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester.
Officials have said sea levels around Boston have risen a foot over the last century and may rise two to six more feet by the end of the next century.
A report released by the Urban Land Institute in late September suggested one of the ways Boston can prepare for climate change and rising sea levels is to build Venice-like canals through the affluent Back Bay.
Walsh said Wednesday that suggestion is not in Boston’s near-term plans, but said he was encouraged by the “bold thinking” from local planning, architecture and engineering experts.
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