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FCM’s programs and advocacy help secure new tools that empower municipalities to build stronger communities of all sizes. Explore below to find out what’s new with us.

Sustainable Communities Awards

Since 2001, FCM's Sustainable Communities Awards have celebrated the most innovative environmental initiatives in Canadian cities and communities of all sizes. As we reflect on the past 20 years of the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) and prepare for an exciting new chapter ahead, we honour those sustainability projects that demonstrate environmental responsibility and excellence, and take an integrated approach to yielding social and economic benefits for their communities.

The winning projects leverage current and advanced technologies as well as best practices in the area of environmental and sustainability, and can be replicated and scaled up across Canada to achieve national quality-of-life, sustainability and climate goals. The awards honour the most innovative sustainability and environmental initiatives in nine categories:

Applicants are encouraged to apply for the award category that best represents the primary goal or environmental benefit of the initiative.

Call for nominations now open

The call for nominations for FCM’s 2020 Sustainable Communities Awards is open. The awards are available to Canadian cities and communities of all sizes. The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2020. We will honour the winners at our Sustainable Communities ConferenceCanada’s leading municipal sustainability event, taking place on October 20-22, 2020, in St. John's, NL. 

Need help getting started on your application? Sign up for our webinar on December 3, 2019, at 1:00 pm-2:00 pm EST.

Why apply?

GMF is a national sustainability leader—as an award winner, you’ll receive local and national recognition and promotion for your initiative.

Benefits include:

  • Recognition from your peers, community and the media for your municipality’s accomplishments in sustainable development.
  • Opportunity to showcase and present your initiative at FCM’s 2020 Sustainable Communities Conference.
  • Individual coaching and support to help you develop a TED Talk-style presentation that will be recorded at the conference and shared.
  • Encourage local pride by inviting your community to vote for you to receive FCM’s Inspire Award, which is given to the project that demonstrates the most creativity and innovation.
  • Showcase your sustainability initiative as a scalable model other municipalities can learn from.

In addition, applicants will be asked to describe how their initiative achieves multiple outcomes, including social, economic and secondary environmental benefits.

FCM is offering to cover the cost of conference registration and certain travel-related costs for award winners who are travelling outside of their region. This subsidy is awarded based on need. Contact us to see if you are eligible.

Meet our Judges

Meet our judges for FCM's 2020 Sustainable Communities Awards who will select the winners. The panel includes FCM Board members and subject matter experts from multiple sectors, including water, transportation, brownfields, energy, asset management and climate change.

Sustainable Communities Awards

Since 2001, FCM's Sustainable Communities Awards have celebrated the most innovative environmental initiatives in Canadian cities and communities of all sizes. As we reflect on the past 20 years of the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) and prepare for an exciting new chapter ahead, we honour those sustainability projects that demonstrate environmental responsibility and excellence, and take an integrated approach to yielding social and economic benefits for their communities.

The winning projects leverage current and advanced technologies as well as best practices in the area of environmental and sustainability, and can be replicated and scaled up across Canada to achieve national quality-of-life, sustainability and climate goals. The awards honour the most innovative sustainability and environmental initiatives in nine categories:

Applicants are encouraged to apply for the award category that best represents the primary goal or environmental benefit of the initiative.

Call for nominations now open

The call for nominations for FCM’s 2020 Sustainable Communities Awards is open. The awards are available to Canadian cities and communities of all sizes. The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2020. We will honour the winners at our Sustainable Communities ConferenceCanada’s leading municipal sustainability event, taking place on October 20-22, 2020, in St. John's, NL. 

Need help getting started on your application? Sign up for our webinar on December 3, 2019, at 1:00 pm-2:00 pm EST.

Why apply?

GMF is a national sustainability leader—as an award winner, you’ll receive local and national recognition and promotion for your initiative.

Benefits include:

  • Recognition from your peers, community and the media for your municipality’s accomplishments in sustainable development.
  • Opportunity to showcase and present your initiative at FCM’s 2020 Sustainable Communities Conference.
  • Individual coaching and support to help you develop a TED Talk-style presentation that will be recorded at the conference and shared.
  • Encourage local pride by inviting your community to vote for you to receive FCM’s Inspire Award, which is given to the project that demonstrates the most creativity and innovation.
  • Showcase your sustainability initiative as a scalable model other municipalities can learn from.

In addition, applicants will be asked to describe how their initiative achieves multiple outcomes, including social, economic and secondary environmental benefits.

FCM is offering to cover the cost of conference registration and certain travel-related costs for award winners who are travelling outside of their region. This subsidy is awarded based on need. Contact us to see if you are eligible.

Meet our Judges

Meet our judges for FCM's 2020 Sustainable Communities Awards who will select the winners. The panel includes FCM Board members and subject matter experts from multiple sectors, including water, transportation, brownfields, energy, asset management and climate change.

Integrating Climate Considerations: Service delivery planning

Is your municipality updating or developing its service delivery planning? Are you thinking of how to get better value from the infrastructure that services to your communities? Check out this page to learn what climate considerations you should be integrating in your service delivery planning activities and learn about some of the tools you will may to use before you create your plan.

How can your community’s service delivery planning integrate climate resiliency?

Integrating climate considerations into service delivery planning – such as infrastructure master planning and asset management planning - is key to climate resilience. Climate change will have significant impacts on levels of service, risks to service delivery, and costs of service delivery. The decisions made in service delivery planning are important and practical opportunities to improve community resilience. Integrating climate considerations into service delivery planning can help your community:

  • Assess and manage risks by determining how climate change will affect services and how strategic decisions about infrastructure investments and operations and maintenance standards can improve climate resilience. For example, assessing the impacts of sea level rise, and weighing the costs and benefits of installing coastal protection infrastructure or rehabilitating a natural shoreline to manage the impacts.
  • Set and adapt service levels that consider and accommodate the impacts of climate change. For example, warming in a cold climate community may lead to an increase in the number of freeze-thaw cycles, which may require changes to the road maintenance service levels.
  • Manage costs of climate change impacts by anticipating changes in service delivery and proactively managing risk or adapting levels of service at opportune times, like the end of the useful life of an existing asset. For example, using future climate projections rather than historic climate data to specify the replacement of an aging HVAC system in a recreation centre during routine asset renewal.

Many climate impacts lead to higher costs or lower levels of service compared to what your community will have provided citizens in the past. For some communities, climate change will mean different impacts on assets, for example, warmer winter temperatures may reduce the number of freeze and thaw cycles, reducing road maintenance needs, but more freezing rain may be damaging to urban forestry. Regardless of the impact, climate change will require reassessing risks, costs, and levels of service—and the trade-offs among these—for providing different services because the conditions are changing. What this means is municipalities cannot continue to maintain the status quo, as it may be more expensive in the long term and lead to lower resilience. Your community should anticipate that climate change will influence service delivery, and your municipality should plan to evaluate your service delivery planning, day-to-day operations, as well as the maintenance and replacement of infrastructure with climate change in mind.

What are other Canadian communities doing?

After back-to-back years of wildfires in 2017 and 2018, staff in the City of Prince George (British Columbia) are considering the relationship between emergency response and climate change. The wildfires around the City resulted in a significant influx of evacuees from communities around Prince George. This created a strain on a variety of services within the community from housing, to security, to food provision. The City is currently working towards including and preparing for a variety of climate impacts in its Hazard, Risk, and Vulnerability Analysis (HRVA), an emergency planning document required by the Province.

Key learning: Planning for your community’s climate vulnerabilities before they occur will ensure continuity of services.

Yellowhead Highway in British Columbia

The City of Selkirk (Manitoba) has become a leader in integrating climate change considerations into asset management planning and their Selkirk Adaptation Strategy. The City has focused on asset management related to stormwater assets, and planning pipe replacement while taking into account future parameters for precipitation and extreme weather. Taking action on this has helped the community to identify priority stormwater pipes for upgrading and the standards to which they need to be upgraded.

Key learning: Considering future climate projections when planning will ensure your community will continue to receive the level of service it has become accustomed to.

Stormwater-Runoff

How can your municipality include climate considerations in service delivering planning?

Integrate climate change data and considerations into service delivering planning by:

  • Using climate scenarios to understand how loads and demands on infrastructure will change over time;
  • Monitoring and updating maintenance and repairs schedules to reflect changing conditions;
  • Updating levels of service where needed to reflect climate risks, including type, size, and scale of services;
  • Evaluating and managing changing risks, including the impact of climate change on asset lifespan;
  • Monitoring and updating environmental programs and service delivery plans as additional information becomes available and in response to experienced climate events;
  • Identifying and planning for adaptation opportunities across services;
  • Determining appropriate timing for capital investments for adaptation, leveraging asset replacement, and renewal as opportunities to adapt infrastructure;
  • Identifying the impact of climate change on natural assets and the services that they provide;
  • Rehabilitating or protecting natural assets that increase the resilience of service delivery systems; and
  • Updating design parameters to take into account changing conditions.

What climate data and service delivery planning tools can you use?

Selecting appropriate tools and data for use in service delivery planning depends on the type of decision you want to inform and the nature of the analysis you conduct. There are many   free tools and resources suitable for qualitative planning or decisions. These resources can help you understand how climate is expected to change in your community, identify how those changes may impact service delivery, and even conduct assessments of vulnerability and risk for various service areas. 

Quantitative planning or decisions, such as selecting specific design parameters for infrastructure, can require more detailed, downscaled, time series data. . Someone with the appropriate climate science expertise should support your municipality in accessing and interpreting this data so that your municipality uses the right data to inform decisions.

Helpful tools by type of planning or decision

Resource Type Planning/Decision Type
  Qualitative Planning and Decisions Quantitative Planning and Decisions
Climate projections Helpful contacts and consultants:
Vulnerability and Risk Assessments
Adapting Intensity Duration Frequency (IDF) curves N/A

 

Integrating Climate Considerations: Community planning

Is your municipality updating or renewing its community plan? Integrating climate change considerations into your approach is one of the main ways to make climate action a priority in your community. Check out this page to learn what climate considerations you should be integrating in your planning activities and learn about some of the tools you may want to use before you create your plan.

Across Canada, local governments are responsible for developing and documenting their vision for how their communities will grow and thrive in the future. Depending on your community, your vision is documented in an Official Community Plan, Official Plan, Regional Growth Strategy, or a Municipal Development Plan.

How can your community plan support climate resiliency?

How we plan our communities influences how resilient they are to the impacts of natural and man-made hazards, including climate change. It is far easier and cost effective to create sustainable and resilience communities through thoughtful planning than it is to rehabilitate natural systems that have been destroyed, build protective infrastructure for communities that are vulnerable, or attempt to relocate residents or businesses in high risk areas. Good community planning supports community resilience because it:

  • Looks at the whole community together. It offers a big-picture, systems-wide view of climate impacts and risks that few other planning processes offer.
  • Sets community priorities. Integrating climate considerations into community plans prioritizes climate change action alongside other local government processes. Research into 732 Canadian communities found that communities that considered climate change in their community plans were much more likely to consider climate change in secondary plans.
  • Influences a range of tools used to manage climate risk. The municipal tools to combat climate change include policies, regulations, operations and maintenance procedures, and design standards. These municipal tools can conform to the direction set in the community plan.

What are other Canadian communities doing?

In the City of Calgary (Alberta), both urban and riverine flooding is a major concern for residents and businesses. In response, as part of the City’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP) adopted in 2018, the City included a section on policies that give direction to guide the planning and regulations that govern the development within the Flood Hazard Area (FHA). The corresponding section of the MDP outlines the risk of flooding and increasing frequencies of flooding under a changing climate and the various policies that the City consider to increase public safety, reduce private and public property damage and enhance the city’s flood resiliency.

City of Calgary, cityscape

Key learning: The City of Calgary actively strengthened its policies around flooding with data in an effort to protect citizens.

The City of Kawartha Lakes (Ontario) took a unique approach to climate action as the City’s Healthy Environment Plan (HEP) considers integrated climate action – addressing mitigation and adaptation holistically. Community involvement in the development of the plan was also notably strong. The plan was developed collaboratively with a Steering Committee made up of staff from several City departments and local institutions, as well as a Working Group of 23 external organizations who represented cross section of local organizations and provided a broader sense of community interests and priorities. Community members also contributed throughout the planning process, providing input on the proposed vision, goals and strategies. Conversations with over 2,600 people and 40 organizations, institutions and community groups, helped to shape the content of the HEP.

The falls in Fenelon Falls with a small amount of water coming over

Key learning: The City of Kawartha Lakes made collaboration a key part of their planning process, which considered the community (and the municipality) as a whole.

How can your municipality include climate considerations in your community plan?

Community planning is one of the key tools available to local governments when it comes to preparing for and adapting to climate change impacts.

Include climate change data and considerations when developing your community plan by:

  • Identifying how the climate is expected to change and the types of impacts that climate change will have on the community;
  • Setting community goals, objectives, and policies that prioritize managing climate risks and adaptation actions;
  • Evaluating climate risks and vulnerabilities that may impact the goals and objectives of other community strategic goals;
  • Evaluating land uses based on climate change risk and minimize vulnerability through land use designations;
  • Prioritizing resiliency when planning land use in the flood plain;
  • Planning for the maintenance or enhancement of natural assets that support climate change resilience and other goals;
  • Setting directions for regulatory tools (e.g., zoning bylaw) to incorporate consideration of climate risk, vulnerability, and adaptation actions; and
  • Setting directions for other plans and initiatives (e.g., infrastructure master plans, climate change adaptation plans etc.) to incorporate climate risk, vulnerability, and adaptation actions.

Where can you find Climate Data and Planning Tool and Resources?

Each community is unique in both the scope and contents of its community plan, and in the types of information that will be relevant for the local context. Below are a few resources that can support integrating climate change considerations into community plans.

Resource Information Provided What can this resource contribute to your community planning activities?
A Guidebook on Climate Scenarios
(Ouranos)
User friendly guide that provides plain language explanations of different types of climate information, including how to consider climate information in decision making
  • Information on how to understand and use climate information to guide adaptation decisions
Canada’s Changing Climate Report (2019)
(Government of Canada)
In-depth, stand-alone assessment of how and why Canada’s climate has changed, and what changes are projected for the future
  • Identification of climate change trends and risks in Canada to inform strategic priorities and adaptation decisions
Climate Atlas of Canada
(Prairie Climate Centre and the University of Winnipeg)
  • Precipitation and temperature projections and historical data
  • City and region reports
  • Videos on climate change
  • Identification of general climate risks facing the community to inform strategic priorities and recommendations
  • Increase understanding changes of future climate conditions at the community level
ClimateData.ca
(Environment and Climate Change Canada, le Centre de recherche en informatique de Montréal [CRIM], Ouranos, Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium [PCIC], Prairie Climate Centre [PCC], and HabitatSeven)
  • Precipitation and temperature projections
  • Custom heatwave analysis for local communities/regions
  • Identification of general climate risks facing the community to inform strategic priorities and recommendations
  • Enhance understanding changes of future climate conditions
  • Easy access to historical and projected climate variables at the community level
Historical Climate Data from the Government of Canada
  • Historical station data
  • Historical radar images
  • Climate normals averages (30 year averages)
  • Engineering climate datasets
  • Identification of historical baselines
Canadian Centre for Climate Services
  • Climate data viewer and climate data extraction tool
  • Temperature, precipitation, wind projections
  • Historical climate data
  • Climate services support desk
  • Climate information basics
  • Library of climate resources (300+ links to resources)
  • Understand climate chance concepts, trends, and guidance on how to use climate information in decision-making
  • Access to climate experts to find, understand and apply climate information
Identification of  climate resources from across Canada, including adaptation planning tools and guidance
Canadian Extreme Water Level Adaptation Tool (CAN-EWLAT)
(Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
  • Sea level rise projections
  • Identification of areas at risk of flooding due to sea level rise to inform developable areas
Sea Level Rise
  • Sea level rise planning
  • Tools and resources to understand implications of sea level rise
Building Adaptive and Resilient Communities (BARC) (ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability)
  • Guide to adaptation planning
  • High-level assessment of community risks and vulnerabilities to inform strategic priorities.
  • Planning framework to identify actions and set implementation priorities,

 

Integrating Climate Considerations: Governance and Operations

From the planning, engineering and sustainability departments, to the front line staff, every municipal employee can play a role in addressing climate change impacts in their community. Integrating climate change data and considerations needs to happen in day-to-day municipal operation, not just through major community or service delivery plans. Read this page to learn about questions you can ask and tools you can use in your work to take climate action.

How can considering climate change resiliency improve your community’s governance and operations?

The key to achieving climate integration is building awareness of potential impacts among elected officials, staff, and the community, and knowing where to go for help and resources. Considering climate change impacts in day-to-day governance and operations will help your community:

  • Better understand and respond to the localized impacts of climate change as it relates to your community. For example, when operations staff clearly document the response of infrastructure to events like storms or floods, it improves the understanding of how changes to climate may impact the infrastructure. This is valuable information to incorporate in risk assessments, business cases, and communication with the public.
  • Leverage ongoing decisions and processes as practical opportunities to build climate resilience. For example, your community can modify the design of a replacement for a failed culvert to include an allowance for increased flow due to climate change, even if the local government has not officially adopted new intensity-duration-frequency curves (IDF curves).
  • Identify the need for other planning when it becomes clear that business-as-usual decisions are not enough for building community resilience. For example, questions that arise about future flood impacts while reviewing a specific development permit may highlight the need to review and update floodplain maps and community zoning.

What are other Canadian communities doing? In the Town of Caledon (Ontario), the Town developed a detailed Climate Change Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (CCVRA). The results of the CCVRA showed a variety of impacts to various operations and service areas in the Town as well as the broader community. To help communicate these results, the Town created a series of two-page factsheets that presented the information according the systems (built, human, natural) that were at risk to climate change. The fact sheets aid in the communication of climate risks to both internal departments as well as more broadly to community stakeholders.

People reading an ipad

Key learning: Municipal staff play a crucial role in identifying and preparing their communities for climate change impacts.

The City of Edmonton (Alberta) has been a longtime leader on climate change action. Historically, the City has taken steps to manage and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Recently the City developed a comprehensive process of identifying climate risks and developing its Climate Resilient Edmonton Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan to address them. As part of this process, the City included a comprehensive assessment of the economic impacts of inaction (the economic impacts to local GDP, health costs, and to the natural environment) as well as the investments required to update infrastructure and ensure adequate service delivery.

People collaborating at work.

Key learning: Integrating climate change impacts into your community’s processes ensures that your vision of a resilient community is applied.

Where can you find climate data and resources?

The Canadian Centre for Climate Services (CCCS) provides climate data and a variety of resources for integrating climate considerations into local government decisions. If you are not sure where to start, the table below provides an overview of some common local government decision points with example questions and resources to help your municipality consider climate change impacts.

Decision Points Example Questions to Ask Example Resources

Development applications

  • Are there climate impacts that need to be considered before approving this development applications?
  • How do we change our development standards while maintaining affordability and competitiveness?
  • How do we develop our coastline?
Infrastructure capacity and design standards
  • How will climate change influence our infrastructure decisions?
  • What intensity-duration-frequency curve (IDF curve) do we use?
  • Should I replace this failing culvert with a similar sized culvert?
  • What size does our new water reservoir need to be?
  • Will drier conditions impact our water source?
Impacts on Levels of Service
  • How does climate change affect levels of service?
  • Where is your municipality most vulnerable?
  • What are your municipality’s critical assets?
Restoring natural assets
  • Do we restore or daylight a creek that has been filled in to improve resiliency?
  • Will the form of development affect the health and function of a natural asset?
  • Does a natural area provide important flood protection services? Should it be protected as a park?
Federal and provincial grant opportunities
  • How do I fill out the climate lens to get grant money for our project?
Public tenders
  • How will climate change affect this project, service, or product?
  • What measures can improve resilience?
  • How can I ensure the project proposal has considered climate change accurately?
  • Risk and vulnerability assessment tools
Staff capacity building
  • What do our staff need to know to help us make decisions that are adaptive to climate change?

Integrating Climate Considerations: Governance and Operations

From the planning, engineering and sustainability departments, to the front line staff, every municipal employee can play a role in addressing climate change impacts in their community. Integrating climate change data and considerations needs to happen in day-to-day municipal operation, not just through major community or service delivery plans. Read this page to learn about questions you can ask and tools you can use in your work to take climate action.

How can considering climate change resiliency improve your community’s governance and operations?

The key to achieving climate integration is building awareness of potential impacts among elected officials, staff, and the community, and knowing where to go for help and resources. Considering climate change impacts in day-to-day governance and operations will help your community:

  • Better understand and respond to the localized impacts of climate change as it relates to your community. For example, when operations staff clearly document the response of infrastructure to events like storms or floods, it improves the understanding of how changes to climate may impact the infrastructure. This is valuable information to incorporate in risk assessments, business cases, and communication with the public.
  • Leverage ongoing decisions and processes as practical opportunities to build climate resilience. For example, your community can modify the design of a replacement for a failed culvert to include an allowance for increased flow due to climate change, even if the local government has not officially adopted new intensity-duration-frequency curves (IDF curves).
  • Identify the need for other planning when it becomes clear that business-as-usual decisions are not enough for building community resilience. For example, questions that arise about future flood impacts while reviewing a specific development permit may highlight the need to review and update floodplain maps and community zoning.

What are other Canadian communities doing? In the Town of Caledon (Ontario), the Town developed a detailed Climate Change Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (CCVRA). The results of the CCVRA showed a variety of impacts to various operations and service areas in the Town as well as the broader community. To help communicate these results, the Town created a series of two-page factsheets that presented the information according the systems (built, human, natural) that were at risk to climate change. The fact sheets aid in the communication of climate risks to both internal departments as well as more broadly to community stakeholders.

People reading an ipad

Key learning: Municipal staff play a crucial role in identifying and preparing their communities for climate change impacts.

The City of Edmonton (Alberta) has been a longtime leader on climate change action. Historically, the City has taken steps to manage and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Recently the City developed a comprehensive process of identifying climate risks and developing its Climate Resilient Edmonton Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan to address them. As part of this process, the City included a comprehensive assessment of the economic impacts of inaction (the economic impacts to local GDP, health costs, and to the natural environment) as well as the investments required to update infrastructure and ensure adequate service delivery.

People collaborating at work.

Key learning: Integrating climate change impacts into your community’s processes ensures that your vision of a resilient community is applied.

Where can you find climate data and resources?

The Canadian Centre for Climate Services (CCCS) provides climate data and a variety of resources for integrating climate considerations into local government decisions. If you are not sure where to start, the table below provides an overview of some common local government decision points with example questions and resources to help your municipality consider climate change impacts.

Decision Points Example Questions to Ask Example Resources

Development applications

  • Are there climate impacts that need to be considered before approving this development applications?
  • How do we change our development standards while maintaining affordability and competitiveness?
  • How do we develop our coastline?
Infrastructure capacity and design standards
  • How will climate change influence our infrastructure decisions?
  • What intensity-duration-frequency curve (IDF curve) do we use?
  • Should I replace this failing culvert with a similar sized culvert?
  • What size does our new water reservoir need to be?
  • Will drier conditions impact our water source?
Impacts on Levels of Service
  • How does climate change affect levels of service?
  • Where is your municipality most vulnerable?
  • What are your municipality’s critical assets?
Restoring natural assets
  • Do we restore or daylight a creek that has been filled in to improve resiliency?
  • Will the form of development affect the health and function of a natural asset?
  • Does a natural area provide important flood protection services? Should it be protected as a park?
Federal and provincial grant opportunities
  • How do I fill out the climate lens to get grant money for our project?
Public tenders
  • How will climate change affect this project, service, or product?
  • What measures can improve resilience?
  • How can I ensure the project proposal has considered climate change accurately?
  • Risk and vulnerability assessment tools
Staff capacity building
  • What do our staff need to know to help us make decisions that are adaptive to climate change?

Integrating Climate Considerations: Service delivery planning

Is your municipality updating or developing its service delivery planning? Are you thinking of how to get better value from the infrastructure that services to your communities? Check out this page to learn what climate considerations you should be integrating in your service delivery planning activities and learn about some of the tools you will may to use before you create your plan.

How can your community’s service delivery planning integrate climate resiliency?

Integrating climate considerations into service delivery planning – such as infrastructure master planning and asset management planning - is key to climate resilience. Climate change will have significant impacts on levels of service, risks to service delivery, and costs of service delivery. The decisions made in service delivery planning are important and practical opportunities to improve community resilience. Integrating climate considerations into service delivery planning can help your community:

  • Assess and manage risks by determining how climate change will affect services and how strategic decisions about infrastructure investments and operations and maintenance standards can improve climate resilience. For example, assessing the impacts of sea level rise, and weighing the costs and benefits of installing coastal protection infrastructure or rehabilitating a natural shoreline to manage the impacts.
  • Set and adapt service levels that consider and accommodate the impacts of climate change. For example, warming in a cold climate community may lead to an increase in the number of freeze-thaw cycles, which may require changes to the road maintenance service levels.
  • Manage costs of climate change impacts by anticipating changes in service delivery and proactively managing risk or adapting levels of service at opportune times, like the end of the useful life of an existing asset. For example, using future climate projections rather than historic climate data to specify the replacement of an aging HVAC system in a recreation centre during routine asset renewal.

Many climate impacts lead to higher costs or lower levels of service compared to what your community will have provided citizens in the past. For some communities, climate change will mean different impacts on assets, for example, warmer winter temperatures may reduce the number of freeze and thaw cycles, reducing road maintenance needs, but more freezing rain may be damaging to urban forestry. Regardless of the impact, climate change will require reassessing risks, costs, and levels of service—and the trade-offs among these—for providing different services because the conditions are changing. What this means is municipalities cannot continue to maintain the status quo, as it may be more expensive in the long term and lead to lower resilience. Your community should anticipate that climate change will influence service delivery, and your municipality should plan to evaluate your service delivery planning, day-to-day operations, as well as the maintenance and replacement of infrastructure with climate change in mind.

What are other Canadian communities doing?

After back-to-back years of wildfires in 2017 and 2018, staff in the City of Prince George (British Columbia) are considering the relationship between emergency response and climate change. The wildfires around the City resulted in a significant influx of evacuees from communities around Prince George. This created a strain on a variety of services within the community from housing, to security, to food provision. The City is currently working towards including and preparing for a variety of climate impacts in its Hazard, Risk, and Vulnerability Analysis (HRVA), an emergency planning document required by the Province.

Key learning: Planning for your community’s climate vulnerabilities before they occur will ensure continuity of services.

Yellowhead Highway in British Columbia

The City of Selkirk (Manitoba) has become a leader in integrating climate change considerations into asset management planning and their Selkirk Adaptation Strategy. The City has focused on asset management related to stormwater assets, and planning pipe replacement while taking into account future parameters for precipitation and extreme weather. Taking action on this has helped the community to identify priority stormwater pipes for upgrading and the standards to which they need to be upgraded.

Key learning: Considering future climate projections when planning will ensure your community will continue to receive the level of service it has become accustomed to.

Stormwater-Runoff

How can your municipality include climate considerations in service delivering planning?

Integrate climate change data and considerations into service delivering planning by:

  • Using climate scenarios to understand how loads and demands on infrastructure will change over time;
  • Monitoring and updating maintenance and repairs schedules to reflect changing conditions;
  • Updating levels of service where needed to reflect climate risks, including type, size, and scale of services;
  • Evaluating and managing changing risks, including the impact of climate change on asset lifespan;
  • Monitoring and updating environmental programs and service delivery plans as additional information becomes available and in response to experienced climate events;
  • Identifying and planning for adaptation opportunities across services;
  • Determining appropriate timing for capital investments for adaptation, leveraging asset replacement, and renewal as opportunities to adapt infrastructure;
  • Identifying the impact of climate change on natural assets and the services that they provide;
  • Rehabilitating or protecting natural assets that increase the resilience of service delivery systems; and
  • Updating design parameters to take into account changing conditions.

What climate data and service delivery planning tools can you use?

Selecting appropriate tools and data for use in service delivery planning depends on the type of decision you want to inform and the nature of the analysis you conduct. There are many   free tools and resources suitable for qualitative planning or decisions. These resources can help you understand how climate is expected to change in your community, identify how those changes may impact service delivery, and even conduct assessments of vulnerability and risk for various service areas. 

Quantitative planning or decisions, such as selecting specific design parameters for infrastructure, can require more detailed, downscaled, time series data. . Someone with the appropriate climate science expertise should support your municipality in accessing and interpreting this data so that your municipality uses the right data to inform decisions.

Helpful tools by type of planning or decision

Resource Type Planning/Decision Type
  Qualitative Planning and Decisions Quantitative Planning and Decisions
Climate projections Helpful contacts and consultants:
Vulnerability and Risk Assessments
Adapting Intensity Duration Frequency (IDF) curves N/A

 

Integrating Climate Considerations: Community planning

Is your municipality updating or renewing its community plan? Integrating climate change considerations into your approach is one of the main ways to make climate action a priority in your community. Check out this page to learn what climate considerations you should be integrating in your planning activities and learn about some of the tools you may want to use before you create your plan.

Across Canada, local governments are responsible for developing and documenting their vision for how their communities will grow and thrive in the future. Depending on your community, your vision is documented in an Official Community Plan, Official Plan, Regional Growth Strategy, or a Municipal Development Plan.

How can your community plan support climate resiliency?

How we plan our communities influences how resilient they are to the impacts of natural and man-made hazards, including climate change. It is far easier and cost effective to create sustainable and resilience communities through thoughtful planning than it is to rehabilitate natural systems that have been destroyed, build protective infrastructure for communities that are vulnerable, or attempt to relocate residents or businesses in high risk areas. Good community planning supports community resilience because it:

  • Looks at the whole community together. It offers a big-picture, systems-wide view of climate impacts and risks that few other planning processes offer.
  • Sets community priorities. Integrating climate considerations into community plans prioritizes climate change action alongside other local government processes. Research into 732 Canadian communities found that communities that considered climate change in their community plans were much more likely to consider climate change in secondary plans.
  • Influences a range of tools used to manage climate risk. The municipal tools to combat climate change include policies, regulations, operations and maintenance procedures, and design standards. These municipal tools can conform to the direction set in the community plan.

What are other Canadian communities doing?

In the City of Calgary (Alberta), both urban and riverine flooding is a major concern for residents and businesses. In response, as part of the City’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP) adopted in 2018, the City included a section on policies that give direction to guide the planning and regulations that govern the development within the Flood Hazard Area (FHA). The corresponding section of the MDP outlines the risk of flooding and increasing frequencies of flooding under a changing climate and the various policies that the City consider to increase public safety, reduce private and public property damage and enhance the city’s flood resiliency.

City of Calgary, cityscape

Key learning: The City of Calgary actively strengthened its policies around flooding with data in an effort to protect citizens.

The City of Kawartha Lakes (Ontario) took a unique approach to climate action as the City’s Healthy Environment Plan (HEP) considers integrated climate action – addressing mitigation and adaptation holistically. Community involvement in the development of the plan was also notably strong. The plan was developed collaboratively with a Steering Committee made up of staff from several City departments and local institutions, as well as a Working Group of 23 external organizations who represented cross section of local organizations and provided a broader sense of community interests and priorities. Community members also contributed throughout the planning process, providing input on the proposed vision, goals and strategies. Conversations with over 2,600 people and 40 organizations, institutions and community groups, helped to shape the content of the HEP.

The falls in Fenelon Falls with a small amount of water coming over

Key learning: The City of Kawartha Lakes made collaboration a key part of their planning process, which considered the community (and the municipality) as a whole.

How can your municipality include climate considerations in your community plan?

Community planning is one of the key tools available to local governments when it comes to preparing for and adapting to climate change impacts.

Include climate change data and considerations when developing your community plan by:

  • Identifying how the climate is expected to change and the types of impacts that climate change will have on the community;
  • Setting community goals, objectives, and policies that prioritize managing climate risks and adaptation actions;
  • Evaluating climate risks and vulnerabilities that may impact the goals and objectives of other community strategic goals;
  • Evaluating land uses based on climate change risk and minimize vulnerability through land use designations;
  • Prioritizing resiliency when planning land use in the flood plain;
  • Planning for the maintenance or enhancement of natural assets that support climate change resilience and other goals;
  • Setting directions for regulatory tools (e.g., zoning bylaw) to incorporate consideration of climate risk, vulnerability, and adaptation actions; and
  • Setting directions for other plans and initiatives (e.g., infrastructure master plans, climate change adaptation plans etc.) to incorporate climate risk, vulnerability, and adaptation actions.

Where can you find Climate Data and Planning Tool and Resources?

Each community is unique in both the scope and contents of its community plan, and in the types of information that will be relevant for the local context. Below are a few resources that can support integrating climate change considerations into community plans.

Resource Information Provided What can this resource contribute to your community planning activities?
A Guidebook on Climate Scenarios
(Ouranos)
User friendly guide that provides plain language explanations of different types of climate information, including how to consider climate information in decision making
  • Information on how to understand and use climate information to guide adaptation decisions
Canada’s Changing Climate Report (2019)
(Government of Canada)
In-depth, stand-alone assessment of how and why Canada’s climate has changed, and what changes are projected for the future
  • Identification of climate change trends and risks in Canada to inform strategic priorities and adaptation decisions
Climate Atlas of Canada
(Prairie Climate Centre and the University of Winnipeg)
  • Precipitation and temperature projections and historical data
  • City and region reports
  • Videos on climate change
  • Identification of general climate risks facing the community to inform strategic priorities and recommendations
  • Increase understanding changes of future climate conditions at the community level
ClimateData.ca
(Environment and Climate Change Canada, le Centre de recherche en informatique de Montréal [CRIM], Ouranos, Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium [PCIC], Prairie Climate Centre [PCC], and HabitatSeven)
  • Precipitation and temperature projections
  • Custom heatwave analysis for local communities/regions
  • Identification of general climate risks facing the community to inform strategic priorities and recommendations
  • Enhance understanding changes of future climate conditions
  • Easy access to historical and projected climate variables at the community level
Historical Climate Data from the Government of Canada
  • Historical station data
  • Historical radar images
  • Climate normals averages (30 year averages)
  • Engineering climate datasets
  • Identification of historical baselines
Canadian Centre for Climate Services
  • Climate data viewer and climate data extraction tool
  • Temperature, precipitation, wind projections
  • Historical climate data
  • Climate services support desk
  • Climate information basics
  • Library of climate resources (300+ links to resources)
  • Understand climate chance concepts, trends, and guidance on how to use climate information in decision-making
  • Access to climate experts to find, understand and apply climate information
Identification of  climate resources from across Canada, including adaptation planning tools and guidance
Canadian Extreme Water Level Adaptation Tool (CAN-EWLAT)
(Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
  • Sea level rise projections
  • Identification of areas at risk of flooding due to sea level rise to inform developable areas
Sea Level Rise
  • Sea level rise planning
  • Tools and resources to understand implications of sea level rise
Building Adaptive and Resilient Communities (BARC) (ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability)
  • Guide to adaptation planning
  • High-level assessment of community risks and vulnerabilities to inform strategic priorities.
  • Planning framework to identify actions and set implementation priorities,

 

Tool for municipal clean energy program development

Energy poverty refers to the experience of households or communities that struggle with meeting their home energy needs. Approximately 20 percent of Canadian households in both rural and urban communities face energy poverty, and addressing this challenge requires a clear understanding of the people who experience it and the factors that contribute to it.

The Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer tool, developed by Canadian Urban Sustainability Practitioners (CUSP), offers municipalities access to relevant data so they can better understand energy poverty, and other equity and affordability challenges in their communities. The resource is designed to help municipal staff develop equitable and inclusive clean energy programs to meet residents’ needs.

About the Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer

CUSP developed the Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer to support participants in the Local Energy Access Programs (LEAP) project. The LEAP project, launched under FCM’s Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program’s Transition 2050 initiative, supports CUSP members in using the tool. The project involves 16 municipalities working together to design and deliver clean energy programs. This will accelerate their ability to adopt technologies such as heat pumps, solar energy and electric vehicles. Communities can use these tools to design affordable policies and programs aimed at low-income households.

A large number of Canadian households are struggling with affordability, and home energy costs can be very significant depending on where you live, the type and condition of the home you live in, and how many people live in and earn income in your home. Energy poverty affects nearly 3 million households in Canada, combined with income poverty, 4 million households are struggling economically in one way or another.

– Allison Ashcroft

Gain insights into energy poverty in your community

The Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer is a pan-Canadian, neighbourhood-scale equity and energy poverty mapping tool. It draws from custom Statistics Canada datasets down to the most disaggregated scale available (neighbourhood level) in major centres. It also includes data on geography, income characteristics, housing tenure, and housing types. Use the tool to help your municipality develop energy programs that achieve deep emissions reductions. The tool can also help you better design programs to meet the needs of low-income people who struggle to pay their energy costs.  

Develop affordable clean energy programs

The Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer is available to all Canadian municipalities to help:

  • Gain insights into community disparities related to energy costs and burdens
  • Learn about your neighbourhoods by layering several data points related to households and housing (household income and demographics, building characteristics and condition)
  • Reveal inequities at a granular level (neighbourhood)
  • Realize trends influencing energy poverty in Canada
  • Design targeted clean energy programs
  • Apply community data to climate action planning, policies and programing and other equity and affordability initiatives

Use the tool.

Who is this tool for?

This tool will be of particular interest to municipal community energy managers, climate coordinators, environment and sustainability leads along with people working in poverty reduction and social justice.

If you create a new materials using the new tool please advise CUSP so that your work can be profiled on energypoverty.ca and serve as inspiration to other municipal and non-municipal practitioners.

Contact

Allison Ashcroft
Managing Director, Canadian Urban Sustainability Practitioners
allison@cuspnetwork.ca

Tool for municipal clean energy program development

Energy poverty refers to the experience of households or communities that struggle with meeting their home energy needs. Approximately 20 percent of Canadian households in both rural and urban communities face energy poverty, and addressing this challenge requires a clear understanding of the people who experience it and the factors that contribute to it.

The Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer tool, developed by Canadian Urban Sustainability Practitioners (CUSP), offers municipalities access to relevant data so they can better understand energy poverty, and other equity and affordability challenges in their communities. The resource is designed to help municipal staff develop equitable and inclusive clean energy programs to meet residents’ needs.

About the Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer

CUSP developed the Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer to support participants in the Local Energy Access Programs (LEAP) project. The LEAP project, launched under FCM’s Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program’s Transition 2050 initiative, supports CUSP members in using the tool. The project involves 16 municipalities working together to design and deliver clean energy programs. This will accelerate their ability to adopt technologies such as heat pumps, solar energy and electric vehicles. Communities can use these tools to design affordable policies and programs aimed at low-income households.

A large number of Canadian households are struggling with affordability, and home energy costs can be very significant depending on where you live, the type and condition of the home you live in, and how many people live in and earn income in your home. Energy poverty affects nearly 3 million households in Canada, combined with income poverty, 4 million households are struggling economically in one way or another.

– Allison Ashcroft

Gain insights into energy poverty in your community

The Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer is a pan-Canadian, neighbourhood-scale equity and energy poverty mapping tool. It draws from custom Statistics Canada datasets down to the most disaggregated scale available (neighbourhood level) in major centres. It also includes data on geography, income characteristics, housing tenure, and housing types. Use the tool to help your municipality develop energy programs that achieve deep emissions reductions. The tool can also help you better design programs to meet the needs of low-income people who struggle to pay their energy costs.  

Develop affordable clean energy programs

The Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer is available to all Canadian municipalities to help:

  • Gain insights into community disparities related to energy costs and burdens
  • Learn about your neighbourhoods by layering several data points related to households and housing (household income and demographics, building characteristics and condition)
  • Reveal inequities at a granular level (neighbourhood)
  • Realize trends influencing energy poverty in Canada
  • Design targeted clean energy programs
  • Apply community data to climate action planning, policies and programing and other equity and affordability initiatives

Use the tool.

Who is this tool for?

This tool will be of particular interest to municipal community energy managers, climate coordinators, environment and sustainability leads along with people working in poverty reduction and social justice.

If you create a new materials using the new tool please advise CUSP so that your work can be profiled on energypoverty.ca and serve as inspiration to other municipal and non-municipal practitioners.

Contact

Allison Ashcroft
Managing Director, Canadian Urban Sustainability Practitioners
allison@cuspnetwork.ca

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