Climate Resilience Strategies
Community safety is becoming more at risk because of extreme weather conditions like floods and forest fires. Communities can be kept safe through proactive adaptation, which involves working together to evaluate different climate events and the possible vulnerable populations affected. To achieve successful implementation and increase climate resilience, municipalities need to work together in a cross-departmental way, get support from councils and take action to adapt as an organization. Besides all of this, placing climate resilience strategies in community plans is becoming essential.
Resilience Strategies to embrace environmental change:
Communities that adjust to their surroundings and the dangers that climate change brings have a greater chance of thriving. In both urban and rural areas, infrastructure must consider the actual conditions of the soil and geography. Should it, however, be a one-time event, the techniques should influence the community's culture and mindset and enhance it moving forward. There need to be ways for the community to contribute to environmental improvement while simultaneously adjusting to climate change. Here are some clear examples of strategies that can help municipalities in Northwestern Ontario work towards better climate resilience:
Evaluate a community’s preparedness for any type of natural disaster (Wildfires, forest fires, floods)
- With 47 active fires in the area link and the 2023 season being one of Canada’s worst wildfire seasons link. It is important for communities to assess their level of preparedness for potential natural disasters. From their ability to bounce back quickly to the economic impact, this has on them year after year. As there looks to be a prediction that western Canada will see a 50% increase in the number of dry, windy days that let the fire start and spread link. There should be a rise in additional plans or strategies created especially for this rather than putting them in the risk management framework. This assessment will help the municipality understand the specific vulnerabilities and potential impact.
- Asses the resilience of existing infrastructure and buildings and identify areas that need upgrades or modifications to withstand climate-related risks.
- Northwestern Ontario has older infrastructure, which is more prone to fires. It also features rural areas that are near fire-prone territories. This is a risky situation when homes are being built in woods and/or natural regions. Hence, looking at where homes are being built and where communities are growing is an important matter.
- Other types of infrastructure concepts that should be implemented across the community or neighbourhood are sprinkler system installations, the use of fire-resistant construction materials, community-specific rainwater collection systems, and management of combustible debris. This also can include permeable pavements, rain gardens, and green roofs, as examples to reduce flood risks.
Climate-smart planning link:
- Institutions that work with energy, land use, transportation, infrastructure and community planning.
- It includes planning for the inevitable effects of climate change by altering the structure and operation of communities, adaptation to current environmental changes, and disaster risk reduction measures.
Resilience Hubs link
- are facilities that help the community and organize the distribution of resources and services before, after, and during a natural disaster event. Making this a fantastic tool to implement before and after a community has been affected by a natural disaster.
Build a wildfire mitigation plan for all communities alongside a Flood mitigation plan (Hazard Mitigation Plan)
- Whether it is for floods or wildfires, a mitigation plan entails a detailed evaluation of city risks and outlines strategies to reduce hazards and impacts on people and property.
- You can also develop a community protection plan. In Texas, the Community Wildfire Protection Plan link was designed to reduce home losses and provide safety for firefighters and residents during wildfires.
- Alongside that mitigation plans are beneficial as they increase public awareness, reduce losses, reduce future needs for response and recovery, strengthen community partnerships and reduce business and economic interruption link. Develop Disaster recovery plans & adaptation or resilience plans.
- Through time, these plans should have regular monitoring and evaluation. There should be regularly viewed and updated strategies and mitigation plans based on new information, lessons learned and evolving climate science.
Seek Funding Opportunities for Government Grants or Partnerships.
- Utilize funds like the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund link which can be accessed and utilized to modify or reinforce old public infrastructure or to construct new public infrastructure that is less prone to get destroyed by a natural disaster. There should be accessibility for municipalities to funds like the National Disaster Mitigation Program link or the creation of funds that give municipalities greater opportunities to access more funds that are attached to single natural disasters. Explore innovative financing models and consider leveraging public-private collaborations to access additional resources.
- The Intact Public Entities (IPE) link
In 2022: IPE and Intact Foundation launched the Municipal Climate Resilience Grant link where 10 municipalities across Canada each received approximately $100,000 towards a climate-related initiative designed to curb flood or wildfire peril.
in 2023: IPE is proud to partner with Natural Asset Initiative (NAI)link on a climate granting program for the development of natural asset management road maps in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.
Create resilience retrofit program incentives for property owners. (Educate and engage the community)
- Bring incentives to the community to become more involved in initiatives. For property owners, give them incentives to build their homes more resistant to wildfires with products or construction materials like concrete, gypsum, stucco, or brick. And equally with floods, giving them incentives to make buildings with concrete, marine-treated plywood, pressure-treated lumber, bricks, or metals.
- Engage residents in climate resilience initiatives through workshops, public consultations, and volunteering opportunities to foster a sense of ownership and collective responsibility.
Bring environmental awareness into the educational curriculum (Update it).
- Implement educational programs and campaigns to raise awareness about climate change and the importance of individual community actions.
- Teaching students about environmental awareness will help them build more environmentally conscious behaviour. Learning lessons at school and getting them to practice or have a real-life context of what is really happening is essential for children. Programs like EcoSchools link are incredibly useful as they help nurture and expand awareness.
Create Climate-Informed Approaches:
- Using asset management to lessen the consequences of climate change was discussed in an article published in the August 2023 issue of the magazine Municipal Worldlink . A climate-informed asset management program is created by combining the asset management plans, which municipalities are already required to complete, with a climate adaptation strategy. Furthermore, what a climate-informed approach to asset management includes is taking climate change into account at each stage of developing the asset management plan. Additionally, this proposal could provide municipalities with the chance to use this approach as a low-risk, cost-effective solution to better prepare them for the unavoidable effects of climate change.
Climate resilience is an ongoing process, and municipalities should continually adapt and refine their approaches based on changing climate conditions and emerging new knowledge.
Examples of Cities and what are they doing:
New Orleans, one of the 100 resilient cities, is a fantastic example of a smart resilience strategy. Their geographic structure and environment are not the same as Northwestern’s Ontario, nor do they suffer the same challenges, yet they base their approach on previously developed ideas and goals. Their plan is to develop a sequence of quick tasks with long-term objectives that serve as a road map for execution. Here is their entire strategy:
- A story in the August 2023 issue of the magazine Municipal World was "District Energy a new tool to fight climate change", which provided some information on the city of Yellowknife, they are looking for creative ways to reduce emissions and combat climate change. They developed a biomass district energy system to heat roughly five municipal structures. The modification has had a good influence on the economy and on the environment while assisting the town by saving energy. This is a fantastic illustration of how little expenditures that are made today could aid and provide a better tomorrow. Municipalities must begin to change, look at other municipalities that are pursuing novel solutions, and adopt these fresh concepts.
Top Countries and what are they doing:
Luxembourg has a great resilience plan.
Some of their green changes are enlarging their network for charging points for electric cars, supplying new housing districts with heat, and producing electricity via renewable energy resources. These transitions will help their greenhouse emissions decrease significantly; their goal is to reduce it by 55% by 2030. Not only that, but it also gives the country the opportunity to bring better climate awareness to its population and those around them. Alongside that, Covid-19, and the changes it brought to our environment. They are focused on protecting and rehabilitating biodiversity and bringing new Eco-strategies to aid in the process. Here is their resilience plan RRR-Final-EN-August-with-Cover.pdf (gouvernement.lu)
Housing with efficient heating systems is essential for Northwestern Ontario due to its cold climate and long winter months. Implementing heat-efficient housing solutions, like Luxembourg, can help improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and lower heating costs for residents. Here are some examples of heat-efficient housing strategies that could be applied in Northwestern Ontario:
District Heating Systems:
- Investigate the potential for district heating systems that supply heat from a central source to multiple buildings. District heating can be more efficient and cost-effective than individual heating systems.
- Consider biomass heating systems, such as pellet stoves or wood pellet boilers, which can be a renewable and carbon-neutral heating option if sourced sustainably. As Northwestern Ontario's Biomass production has increased, these could be a great option for renewable energy and efficient heating.
Passive House Design:
- Promote passive house design principles that focus on maximizing insulation, and solar gain to minimize the need for conventional heating. This approach can significantly reduce heating requirements.
High Insulation Standards:
- Enforce high insulation standards for new construction and retrofitting existing buildings. Adequate insulation helps retain heat inside the building, reducing the energy needed for heating.
Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors:
- Encourage the use of energy-efficient windows and doors with low U-values and weatherstripping to prevent heat loss.
Energy Audits and Retrofits:
- Conduct energy audits for existing buildings to identify areas for improvement. Offer incentives or subsidies for homeowners to undertake energy-efficient retrofits, such as insulation upgrades or heating system replacements.
Smart Thermostats and Energy Management:
- Promote the use of smart thermostats and energy management systems that allow residents to optimize heating schedules and reduce energy waste.
Public Awareness and Education:
- Educate homeowners and renters about the importance of energy-efficient heating and the benefits of upgrading to heat-efficient systems.
Local Incentives and Rebates:
- Introduce local incentives, tax rebates, or grants to encourage homeowners to adopt heat-efficient technologies.
Support for Low-Income Households:
- Implement programs to support low-income households in accessing affordable heat-efficient housing, such as rent subsidies or energy assistance programs.
Implementing heat-efficient housing strategies in Northwestern Ontario can have substantial long-term benefits, including reduced energy consumption, lower carbon emissions, and increased affordability for residents. Local governments, community organizations, and energy providers can collaborate to promote and support the adoption of these strategies.
The Netherlands has always been a leader in the environmental crisis solution.
The Netherlands is renowned for its extensive and well-developed cycling infrastructure, which has contributed to high rates of cycling and sustainable transportation. There is an estimation that the Netherlands is home to 881,000 bikes. Choosing a bike over a car helps reduce a person's carbon emissions by 67% in the transportation sector. Transportation policies have shifted to benefit and encourage bicycling, they are also home to more than 22,000 miles of cycling paths. Here are some of the things they are doing to improve their climate resilience, they are improving their infrastructure to provide better areas for bicycling, flood mitigation strategies, incorporating fresh water supply, modern greenhouse farming and many more. They strive to create a climate-proof country, so they can survive in any environment.
While the context of Northwestern Ontario may differ significantly from the Netherlands, some elements of their bicycle-friendly infrastructure and policies can be adapted and implemented to promote cycling in the region. Here's an outline of how some of these elements could be applied in Northwestern Ontario:
Separated Bike Lanes and Cycle Tracks:
- Develop physically separated bike lanes or cycle tracks along major roads and routes with high cycling demand. Separate cycling infrastructure from vehicle traffic to enhance safety and encourage cycling.
- Establish bicycle-sharing programs in urban centers to provide residents and visitors access to bicycles for short trips. These programs can enhance mobility and reduce car usage.
Cycling Education and Promotion:
- Conduct cycling education programs for residents, schools, and workplaces to promote safe cycling practices and build a cycling culture.
- Encourage students to cycle to school by creating safe routes, organizing bike trains, and providing incentives for active transportation.
Advocacy and Community Engagement:
- Involve cycling advocacy groups and local communities in the planning and design of cycling infrastructure. Leverage community support to garner political backing for cycling initiatives.
- Integrate bicycle-friendly policies into the municipal transportation and urban planning frameworks. Consider cycling as a key component of sustainable transportation.
Monitoring and Evaluation:
- Regularly monitor the usage and effectiveness of cycling infrastructure and policies. Gather feedback from cyclists and use data to improve the network's design and operation.
Collaboration with Indigenous Communities:
- Collaborate with Indigenous communities in the region to ensure that cycling initiatives are inclusive and consider their unique needs and perspectives.
Adapting and implementing bicycle-friendly infrastructure and policies from the Netherlands in Northwestern Ontario can contribute to a more sustainable and active transportation system, reducing the region's carbon footprint and enhancing the overall quality of life for residents.
Denmark has a 10-year plan to reduce carbon emissions to 70% below. Alongside, they aim to be carbon neutral, meaning carbon dioxide emissions will be zero by 2050. And they are currently developing a climate action plan. Some of their main points will be green public procurement, sustainable construction, green research and more. Climate action in Denmark: Latest state of play | Think Tank | European Parliament (europa.eu)
Sustainable construction can be a crucial component of achieving environmental and economic sustainability in any region, including Northwestern Ontario. Here are some examples of strategies and practices for sustainable construction in the region:
Green Building Materials:
- Encourage the use of eco-friendly building materials such as recycled or reclaimed materials, low-VOC paints, and sustainably sourced wood.
- Promote energy-efficient building design, including passive solar design, proper orientation, and high-performance insulation, to reduce energy consumption.
Urban Green Spaces:
- Integrate green spaces into urban planning to improve air quality, reduce the urban heat island effect, and provide recreational opportunities.
- Encourage the adaptive reuse of existing buildings and structures to minimize resource consumption and preserve historical and cultural heritage.
- Engage with the community and stakeholders to incorporate their input in sustainable construction initiatives and foster a sense of ownership.
Collaboration with Indigenous Communities:
- Work with Indigenous communities in the region to integrate traditional building knowledge and practices with modern heat-efficient technologies
Renewable Energy Integration:
- Incorporate renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or small-scale wind turbines, into building designs to generate clean energy onsite.
Green Building Certifications:
- Encourage developers to pursue green building certifications like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to ensure sustainable building practices are met.
New Zealand is one of the first countries to apply a tax on Farmers for greenhouse gases emitted during agricultural activities. They want farmers to adopt more sustainable practices and be leaders in showcasing the benefit of this change. They have a national adaptation plan National adaptation plan | Ministry for the Environment
By promoting green farming practices, Northwestern Ontario can move towards a more resilient and environmentally responsible future, benefiting both the environment and the local communities. Collaboration between local governments, farmers, businesses, and community organizations is vital in driving these sustainability initiatives forward.
Crop Rotation and Diversification:
- Encourage farmers to practice crop rotation and diversification to improve soil health, reduce pest pressure, and enhance resilience to climate change.
- Promote agroforestry practices, such as integrating trees and shrubs into agricultural landscapes, to enhance biodiversity and provide ecosystem services.
- Support and incentivize organic farming methods that reduce the use of synthetic chemicals, preserve soil health and promote biodiversity.
- Encourage the adoption of conservation tillage practices that minimize soil disturbance, prevent erosion, and sequester carbon in the soil.
- Implement efficient irrigation practices, such as drip irrigation or rainwater harvesting, to conserve water resources.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM):
- Promote the use of IPM techniques that combine biological, cultural, and chemical methods to manage pests sustainability.
Local Food Systems:
- Support local food systems and reduce food miles by connecting farmers with local markets and consumers.
- Explore carbon farming practices, such as cover cropping and rotational grazing, to sequester carbon in the soil and contribute to climate change mitigation.
Sustainable Livestock Management:
- Encourage sustainable livestock practices, including rotational grazing and humane treatment of animals.
Education and Training:
- Provide education and training opportunities for farmers to learn about sustainable farming practices and innovative techniques.
- Offer financial incentives, grants, or low-interest loans to farmers who adopt sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.
Ireland created a Climate Action plan, in which they are trying to reduce their emissions by 2030. Some of the initiatives to do that are the following: green economy, retrofitting, more renewable energy, clean mobility, and sustainable agriculture. 2021 Climate action plan gov.ie - Climate Action Plan 2021 (www.gov.ie)
2023 action plan gov.ie - Climate Action Plan 2023 (www.gov.ie)
Northwestern Ontario's community and authorities can adapt and implement these relevant practices that align with the region's specific needs and characteristics to build environmental and climate change resilience effectively:
- Ireland has made significant strides in harnessing renewable energy, particularly wind energy. The country has been investing in offshore wind farms, which has the potential to provide a substantial amount of clean electricity and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
- To combat emissions from transportation, Ireland has been promoting sustainable transport options. Initiatives include investing in public transportation, supporting electric vehicle adoption, and developing cycling infrastructure in cities.
- Ireland has been actively restoring degraded peatlands. Peatlands act as carbon sinks, and restoring them helps sequester carbon dioxide, thus contributing to climate change mitigation.
- Ireland has been designating marine protected areas and implementing measures to conserve marine ecosystems and biodiversity. This includes protecting important habitats and species found in Irish waters.
Climate Adaptation Planning:
- The Irish government has developed a National Adaptation Framework to address climate change impacts across various sectors. It aims to enhance resilience to extreme weather events and changing climate conditions.
The United Kingdom has received various threats through the years, including heat waves, droughts, rainfall, river flooding, erosion and in general extreme weather conditions. They founded a Climate Resilience Programme, and it’s a government-backed initiative to understand the risks that the country faces and how to help individuals adapt accordingly. The UK Climate Resilience Programme –
Applying some practices from other countries has to align with Northwestern Ontario's specific conditions, here are some from the United Kingdom that can be beneficial for the development of climate resilience in the region:
Offshore Wind Energy:
- The UK has been a global leader in offshore wind energy development. It has invested in large-scale offshore wind farms, harnessing the wind's power to generate clean electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- The UK has been exploring nature-based solutions to climate change, such as afforestation, rewilding, and green infrastructure development. These measures help enhance ecosystem resilience and support climate adaptation.
Green Finance Initiatives:
- The UK has been actively promoting green finance initiatives to mobilize private sector funding for sustainable and climate-friendly projects. This includes green bonds, sustainable investment funds, and other financial mechanisms.
Education and Awareness:
- The UK has been working to raise awareness about climate change and environmental issues. Education and public engagement play a crucial role in inspiring individual and community action towards sustainability.
Here are some additional resources:
The Municipal Guide to Net Zero Energy Ready Building Codes contains everything you need to understand tiered codes, the advantages of adopting an ambitious tier, and how municipalities can use the new codes to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.