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Plant City Observer Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018 2 months ago

Local governments unite

A new coalition is asking Plant City to join its ranks in tackling climate change and its impact on the region.
by: Breanne Williams Staff Writer

Plant City has been invited to join the Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Coalition, an alliance of local governments working toward creating a resiliency plan for the region.

During Monday night’s commission meeting, Sean Sullivan, executive director of TBRRC, spoke to

Courtesy of TBRRC. The regions served by the TBRRC.

commissioners about the importance of the new alliance. As of Monday, 24 local governments have joined the group and he said he hoped Plant City would become number 25.

The group serves six counties, 21 municipalities, 13 Gubernatorial Appointees and three ex-officios. It will tackle issues like sea level rise, climate change and resiliency. The TBRRC is an initiative from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.

After Hurricane Irma last year, concerned members of the community met at the University of South Florida to discuss the creation of a group that would be able to help make the region more resilient to such tragedies. Sullivan said they believe being united as one voice will be able to help the state response in emergency situations.

The aim is for local governments to share strategies with each other, to work together to create guidelines for all of the communities and to leverage for funding. Citing a focus on scientific studies, Sullivan said the region is at risk for losing billions of dollars worth of property by the end of the current century.

“We are using science-based facts and any recommendations they have,” Sullivan said. “We don’t enter the political realm, but this is what’s happening.”

He said our region’s economy is so closely knitted together it is in our best interested to ensure all local areas remain strong and are protected from any natural tragedies that could occur. The governments part of TBRRC have promised to discuss the issues facing the area and develop a region-wide response so everyone has similar guidelines.

It aims to have a steering committee of elected officials, a technical advisory committee comprised of members of the scientific and planning community and workgroups. Sullivan said they hope to have annual summits to discuss issues and further strengthen communication pathways.

The coalition is new, so few in-depth plans have been presented. This is merely the preliminary stage for what may be a game changer for the Bay’s response to climate change. On Oct. 8 TBRRC held a signing ceremony to officially form the group.

“As we embark on our 56th year as a Regional Planning Council, we will continue to strive to help shape our region as a vibrant, exciting place that fosters a resilient Tampa Bay,” Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long said in a news release. “A resilient Tampa Bay is one that acknowledges and responds to vulnerabilities to support the economic, environmental and cultural prosperity of this unique and highly valuable region.”

City Manager Bill McDaniel said Plant City has not made a decision yet as to whether it will join the TBRRC.

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