| Sep 27, 2007


Feature Article - September 27, 2007 Feature Article - September 27, 2007

Let's Talk About the Weatherby Jeff Green

People who live in the Highway 41 corridor in Addington and Highlands and North Frontenac are being given a chance to do something that Canadians are famous for: talking about the weather.

Robert McLeman is a geography professor at the University of Ottawa who has a research interest in the effects of climate change on rural communities. He has looked at the effects of drought in Eastern Oklahoma, and is working on the Eastern Ontario section of a national study on the effects of climate change on agricultural communities.

He also has a personal connection to Addington Highlands from having a cabin on Sheldrake Lake for several years. From that experience he was aware of how dependent tourist operators on the 41 corridor are on snowy winters.

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“My interest was piqued last winter,” he said when interviewed by The News. “The weather stayed warm until mid-January and even when the temperature plummeted there was less than normal snow coverage. Knowing from experience how important snowmobiling and ice fishing are to the local economy, I wondered how people were coping.”

He began to think about doing a localised research project. “Most of the studies done thus far about the impacts of climate change have been done on a very broad-based level; very few have come down to the community level where people live,” he said.

Natural Resources Canada took an interest in the project, and contributed some research money.

“We are not just looking at what the weather is doing, but what are the risks that come from the weather, what are the community adaptation needs. For some people it may even be positive, bringing increased mobility in the winter season. These are the things we are looking at.”

In setting up the project, McLeman has established a website, www.addington.uottawa.ca, which explains the project and enables people to relay their own experiences.

He is also organizing public meetings, where people can come out and share their experiences about how the changing weather affects their working lives, and how they are adapting to change. The first of these will take place in Northbrook at the Lions Hall on Wednesday October 10 at 7:00 pm. Everyone is invited. A meeting in Denbigh will be scheduled for later in October.

A database will be compiled as part of the project, and a written report will be produced. All of this information will be made available locally, through the townships and the library.

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