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.
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.
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