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2005 Planning — Co-winner 2

Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia

Climate SMART

Population: 359,111

Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) partnered with all orders of government and the private sector to develop Climate SMART, a fully integrated planning approach that addresses the impacts of climate change. The program supports the wide range of adaptation and mitigation activities, including creating models to determine potential climate change impacts, comup-to-date greenhouse gas (GHG) emission information and preparing emission management options for different community sectors. Climate SMART is HRM's umbrella strategy, under which it implements a variety of sustainability initiatives, such as a plan for a district energy system, a reduced idling campaign and the Halifax Harbour Solutions project. Climate SMART is the first municipal project to integrate GHG emission reduction and climate change impacts, awell as adaptation considerations, into its overall corporate decision-making process.


As a coastal city with more than 5,500 square kilometres of international sea between it and the next seaport to the east, Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) is vulnerable to climate impacts. In recent years, severe weather events have become more frequent. Torrential rains and flooding in March 2003 were followed by Hurricane Juan the following September, and record snowfalls in February 2004 wreaked havoc on the region and cost millions of dollars to clean up and replace damaged property and infrastructure.

"Our geographic location makes us one of the most vulnerable cities in North America, but we had no plan to deal with the effects of climate change," says Stephen King, manager-senior advisor of HRM's sustainable environmental management office.

HRM has been committed to environmental protection for several years. It joined Partners for Climate Protection (PCP), jointly supported by FCM and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, in 1997, and its 2005 regional plan includes a recommendation to establish an emissions reduction plan. What HRM lacked were a mechanism to incorporate climate change issues into its decision-making processes and the resources to implement adaptation and mitigation activities.


  • Climate SMART is the first municipally led initiative to integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation with an overall planning approach.
  • An annual scorecard lists all of HRM's measuring activities and includes an indicator of success for each. Some of these activities include monitoring air quality and energy use in buildings, implementing new waste diversion activities, managing its urban forest and conducting water bacterial counts.
  • Its emission management and mitigation tool exceeds PCP requirements and sets GHG-specific targets for eachHRM business unit.
  • As part of its anti-idling project, all of HRM's fleet managers and drivers (representing 1,800 vehicles) were provided with information on the negative effects of idling and taught energy-efficient driving techniques.
  • HRM uses biodiesel in all of its transit buses and ferries. The biodiesel is made of 80 per cent diesel and 20 per cent fish oil, a by-product of the production of omega-3 oils refined from fish oil. HRM, in partnership with Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada, will monitor the project for pollution reductions.
  • Over the next two years, HRM will install new catalytic converters on older transit buses to make them run more efficiently and produce fewer emissions, which should delay the need to buy new ones.

Lessons Learned

  • COLLABORATION IS KEY. HRM could not have achieved so much in a relatively short period without the strong partnerships it developed with a variety of stakeholders. "No question, collaboration helped us maximize all of our resources and bring in new ones. Our partners also have a lot of input into the process," says Mr. King.
  • HARNESS POLITICAL CHAMPIONS. "Political will has to be there if you want to successfully tie sustainability into corporate planning," says Mr. King, adding that all of Climate SMART's strategies must support HRM's overall vision for its community. "Ideally, you want champions at each level."
  • TAKE AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO PLANNING. "There's no need to work in silos because it's clear that you can save so much in the long-term if you integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies into your decisions," says Mr. King.
  • USE A SOCIAL MARKETING APPROACH. Determining barriers to change and then finding ways to overcome them is at the heart of social marketing theory, a practice that HRM has taken to heart. "You have to continually build support as you go, within your own organization and within the community," says Mr. King. "You'll always run into walls so you need a strategy to deal with that. Although it can be difficult, you need to take a grassrootsapproach."



The main HRM business units involved were:

  • Environmental Management Services
  • Finance and Procurement
  • Regional Planning
  • Transportation and Public Works
  • Planning and Development
  • Real Property and Asset Management
  • Halifax Regional Water Commission


  • ClimAdapt Network
  • Natural Resources Canada's Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Program
  • Environment Canada
  • Nova Scotia's Department of Environment and Labour and Department of Energy
  • Green Municipal Fund
  • Several community groups and local businesses
  • Partners for Climate Protection
Page Updated: 21/12/2015