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,

 

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

Road resurfacing
Governance and operations

Municipal day-to-day operations need to integrate climate change data and considerations. Read this page to learn questions and tools that can help you take climate action in your community.

© 2019 Federation of Canadian Municipalities