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.

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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.

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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?
Want to learn more?
Check out these two other Integrating Climate Considerations tools.
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Community Planning

Is your municipality updating or renewing its community plan? Check out this page to learn what climate considerations you should be integrating in your planning activities and learn about what tools you will want to use before you create your plan. 

Image name: female-mentor-teaching-employees-group-analyzing-online-project-explaining-strategy Staff sitting around a computer talking about a project.
Service Delivery Planning

Is your municipality reviewing its service delivery planning? This page can help you discover climate considerations you should be integrating in your service delivery planning activities and learn about what tools you will want to use before you create your plan. 

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This resource was developed by the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (2017-2022). This program was delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and funded by the Government of Canada.

For more information on climate action funding, resources and training, please visit FCM’s Green Municipal Fund. For more information on asset management and climate resilience grants, training and resources please visit FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Program.

© 2023 Federation of Canadian Municipalities