On October 17, we hosted a sold-out Government Affairs Forum with Mayor Martin J. Walsh, attended by 700 Chamber members, business and civic leaders, and many senior members of the Mayor’s cabinet. This year, Mayor Walsh focused his remarks on one issue: climate resiliency.
During his speech, Mayor Walsh outlined the scope of the threat of climate change, with an emphasis on the frightening cost that rising sea levels, extreme storms and heat could create for the city of Boston. And that cost could come in the form of tens of billions of dollars, the lack of economic productivity that comes after a devastating storm, the loss of businesses - particularly small businesses - that are not able to recover after a super storm, and the damage to our communities and the people who live and work in our city.
Mayor Walsh documented that he understands the threat, but sees prevention of that threat as an opportunity for Boston to lead. And he came into his annual Forum with a plan: the Climate Ready Boston initiative. This initiative joins existing climate resiliency plans for East Boston and Charlestown to include South Boston, Downtown and the North End, as well as the entire Dorchester Shore to create a 47-mile shoreline plan to protect our city from the effects of climate change.
We’ll make the harbor where Boston was born, the gateway to Boston’s future. - Mayor Martin J. Walsh
As he walked through images of his inspired plan, Mayor Walsh emphasized that this plan is “not a system of barricades, but of beaches, and parks and trails and open spaces.” The plan includes 67 acres of new open space and 122 acres of revitalized open space on the waterfront.
This ambitious initiative comes with a cost, but the Mayor has already pledged 10% of all new capital spending to resilience projects, utilizing existing funding sources such as the Community Preservation Act, and public-private coalitions such as the Green Ribbon Commission as a means to get funding started. He appealed to the business community to get engaged in a project that will have a “deep and lasting impact,” and will help us avoid the catastrophic costs associated with the damage climate-related storms can leave behind.
We are thankful to the Mayor for using his time with the Chamber to present a bold and impactful plan that keeps the city of Boston a national leader on climate resiliency and works to protect the businesses and people that call Boston home.
Watch the Mayor’s speech here thanks to our partners at Comcast.