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Unique approach helps Durham Region, ON, plan effectively for climate change

The Regional Municipality of Durham's Community Climate Adaptation Plan is the 2018 winner in the climate change category of FCM's Sustainable Communities Awards.


Local experts used scientific models of future weather conditions to identify risks from climate change and develop plans to adapt. (Photo: Regional Municipality of Durham, ON)

When it came time for the Regional Municipality of Durham, ON to develop its community climate adaptation plan, no single method suited its needs. So, staff developed a hybrid approach that combined two methodologies along with local expertise and scientific projections of future weather conditions in their area. The result is a far-reaching plan that will help the community adapt to the realities of climate change over the next 25 years.

Pioneering approach to developing a community climate adaptation plan

To develop its community climate adaptation plan, Durham Region blended the ICLEI Adaptation Methodology and Toronto WeatherWise Partnership process, and used the best available scientific data from a Future Climate Study of projected weather in the 2040s. They gathered over 60 experts from local municipalities and agencies, who used the projected weather data to identify hazards and risks to buildings, roads, electrical systems, human health, the natural environment and food security.

The unique process combined local expertise with state-of-the-art scientific weather models.

Socially-minded plan will look after residents' future needs

The result of this integrative process is a socially-minded plan that focuses on using and supporting natural systems and green infrastructure as much as possible. Programs supporting social adaptation include protecting outdoor workers from exposure to extreme weather and providing wellness checks during weather events for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or ill, and low income households. Plans include educating high-rise dwellers on emergency protocols, implementing higher building standards for new construction, retrofitting older homes to better protect against climate change, and strengthening the electrical grid and extreme weather alert and response system.

Plan protects community from economic losses due to extreme weather

The plan will reduce the municipality's exposure to uninsured losses and mitigate loss of revenue for businesses due to climate events. During emergencies, it will reduce the need for assistance from other jurisdictions, and lower the risk of loss of life. The plan will also improve infrastructure and social recovery time from extreme weather events.

Learn more about this project

Want to develop a similar project in your community? This spring, we'll publish a video of the project team's presentation at FCM's 2018 Sustainable Communities Conference, along with a guide.

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FCM's Sustainable Communities Awards recognize and celebrate sustainability leaders and trailblazers in municipalities of all sizes across Canada.

Page Updated: 01/02/2018