Tamarack Institute Webinar 

Municipal-Community Collaboration on
Extreme Weather Preparedness and Response

April 17, 2024 | 12:00-1:00 p.m. ET 



Join us for a timely webinar on the role of communities and residents in preparing for and responding to climate-related events. As climate change accelerates, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as wildfires, floods, and heatwaves, continue to rise, posing significant challenges to local governments and communities across the country.

The 2023 wildfire season was the worst ever recorded, with roughly 18.5 million hectares of Canadian land burned and extensive damage to communities, ecosystems, and infrastructure. The town of Celista, British Columbia, was one of the communities that experienced devastating impacts. Jim Cooperman, a prominent author and conservationist in the Shuswap community, will share firsthand insights and lessons learned from the 2023 fires when it comes to strengthening municipal-community collaboration in emergency response.

Meanwhile, in Ontario, the City of Mississauga teamed up with several partners including University of Waterloo to host an RU Ready Workshop and launch Climate Crisis Connect, a youth-led initiative dedicated to improving emergency preparedness in Mississauga through raising awareness and educating residents about the importance of emergency preparation. Ben Gallagher and Larissa Parekh with the City of Mississauga will share their experience collaborating with community partners for greater climate resilience.

As we look ahead to the upcoming summer, projections indicate that Canada may face another season of heightened wildfire activity, along with other climate-related extreme weather events. Municipalities and communities must prepare effectively and strengthen their collaboration to mitigate risks and ensure swift response and recovery efforts.

In this webinar, we’ll explore: 

  • Lessons learned from the experiences of Celista, BC, and Mississauga, ON, when it comes to centering community and activating local resources where possible in emergency preparedness and response

  • Strategies for improving collaboration between municipalities and communities in the face of extreme weather events 

  • Best practices for engaging residents in emergency preparedness efforts and fostering a culture of resilience at the community level


Jim-CoopermanJim Cooperman, Author, Environmentalist and Local Historian, Lee Creek, BC

Jim Cooperman is an author and environmentalist who lives in Lee Creek, in the British Columbia interior region. He writes on local area history, natural history, and conservation issues and is the author of the local best seller, Everything Shuswap.

Jim Cooperman moved to the Shuswap in 1969 as a war resister and a back-to-the-lander, after receiving his BA from the University of California at Berkeley. Over the succeeding years, Jim taught school, worked in construction and log building, operated a sawmill, and edited a provincial environmental journal, the BC Environmental Report. His local environmental work led to the protection of over 25,000 hectares of new parks in the Shuswap, which is documented in the book Big Trees Saved by Deanna Kawatski. Jim lives with his wife, Kathleen, in a log home they built on 40 acres above Shuswap Lake, where they raised five children.

He has been actively involved in the response to the BC wildfires in summer 2023, both during and after the fires. He initiated petitions aimed at improving future emergency response processes including through activating residents and local knowledge and resources in a meaningful way, and has been featured on CBC, in the Globe and Mail and other media. 


 Photo Ben GallagherBen Gallagher, Manager, Office of Emergency Management, City of Mississauga

Ben Gallagher is the Emergency Manager for the City of Mississauga, Canada’s seventh largest city, where he has worked since 2018. Ben holds a Masters Degree in Public Safety from Wilfrid Laurier University and an Honours Bachelor Degree from York University.


Photo of Larissa ParekhLarissa Parekh, Emergency Management Specialist, City of Mississauga

Larissa Parekh is an Emergency Management Specialist at the City of Mississauga. Larissa completed her Masters Degree in Capacity Development and Extension with a specialization in International Development, and began her PhD journey in Rural Studies before transitioning to the City of Mississauga's Office of Emergency Management.

Larissa's prior experience in community engagement and her thesis emphasizing community leadership and social capital has contributed to strengthening resilience and preparedness in Mississauga.


Laura Schnurr, Director of Climate Transitions, Tamarack Institute

Photo of Laura Schnurr

Laura leads Tamarack's work on Climate Transitions and the Sustainable Development Goals. She is passionate about supporting cities and communities in their journeys towards ensuring a just, equitable and sustainable future for the next 7 generations and beyond. Prior to joining Tamarack, Laura worked with the McConnell Foundation on building the field of social innovation and social finance.

She previously worked with several federal government departments. Laura holds a BComm and a Master's in Global Studies. She co-authored a book on UN reform and runs a social enterprise promoting women's economic empowerment in Uganda. 

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