Backgrounder: Making Ontario More Climate Resilient
Climate changes occur because of greenhouse gases that exist in the atmosphere. To be prepared for the future, the province needs to adapt -- to protect the environment and future generations from the negative impacts of climate change.
That means becoming more resilient -- being able to minimize or overcome damage caused by severe weather events, such as hurricanes, ice storms or drought. It also means helping ecosystems recover or adapt when they are affected by long-term temperature changes. Changes to become climate resilient are referred to as adaptation.
Getting Adaptation into Municipal Planning
Ontario has already taken steps to adapt to climate change, but there is more to do. Through the Ontario Regional Adaptation Collaborative (Ontario RAC), the government is working with partners to help communities with adaptation planning.
Making changes to become more climate resilient is important to municipalities so they can help protect the families and businesses in their communities. Ontario RAC will undertake a series of projects over the next three years focused on the following areas:
Managing the Risks of Extreme Weather
Ontario RAC will develop a risk management system to help communities measure their vulnerability to extreme weather events. For example, communities could use local information and customize on-line tools to determine the risk of weather-related property damage and loss.
Once communities are better informed, they can modify regulations and bylaws, using RAC developed guidebooks, best practices and customized tools. Information will be shared with other jurisdictions.
Water Resource Management
Ontario RAC will help integrate climate change considerations into all areas of managing water resources:
- Protecting source water
- Responding to low-water, flood or drought
- Managing storm water.
For example, a network of climate change and water resources technical experts, made up of municipal decision-makers, conservation authorities and technical experts, is being developed to support the work on source water protection. This network will include an online forum where decision makers can exchange information and discuss climate change science.
Integrating Adaptation into Community Planning and Policies
Ontario RAC will also help local decision-makers integrate climate change adaptation into their planning, policies and processes. For large urban centres, the training will enhance their existing capacity. For small, rural, agricultural, resource-based and northern communities, where adaptation planning is limited, the training will help them get started. Staff from at least 50 communities will be trained in adaptation planning. Lessons learned will be transferable to other jurisdictions across Canada.
Ontario RAC Partners
Natural Resources Canada
Ontario Ministry of the Environment
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Clean Air Partnership
Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
Association for Canadian Educational Resources
Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction
Toronto Public Health