Climate Change Adaptation Plan Open House

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Preparing for a changing future: Climate Change Adaptation Plan

Municipalities are at the front lines of the battle to deal with the impacts of climate change. Here in Niagara we have already seen extreme heat waves, freezing rain, heavy rainfall and severe windstorms. Based on climate projections more heat, more precipitation and more extreme-weather events are on the horizon; it’s why we are developing a Climate Change Adaptation Plan, to prepare for this future.

Local weather requires a local response. For the City to respond, and continue delivering services residents rely on a plan will address current risks and vulnerabilities; take proactive steps to adapt; and invest today in a more resilient future.

A changing future

Climate change will impact areas across Canada and around the globe differently. Here in Niagara projections predict more heat, more precipitation and more extreme weather.

More Heat

Rising general temperatures and increasing heatwaves means we need to protect staff working outdoors and the public. Programs and services, such as cooling centres, offering heat relief will need to continue, alongside the exploration of new programming or locations.

Heat doesn’t just impact individuals. With heat comes drought, and current commitments to increasing the urban tree canopy, alongside planting of native, drought-resistant plants will keep our city green.

More precipitation

Precipitation is expected to increase in all seasons but the summer, and with increases comes the risk of flooding. More precipitation necessitates more investments in stormwater infrastructure, as well as engaging the public on ways they can make a difference and reduce stormwater runoff at home.

Natural assets, such as local watercourses and Lake Ontario, also need to be focussed on, with efforts to protect shorelines, prevent erosion and protect public safety.

More extreme weather

Past extreme weather events that happened rarely are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity. Ensuring municipal operations and communication plans are in place to address these events with effective response procedures is a priority for the City. Essential services delivered by the City should be able to continue even through an extreme event to increase municipal resilience.

The Plan

A focus on City operations, assets and services is built on up-to-date climate projections; alongside previous public engagement through the Niagara Adapts Household Vulnerability Survey and Draft Vision and Goals Survey. Unlike mitigation efforts, which seek to stop climate change from happening through emission reduction and other actions, adaptation (and this plan) focuses on preparing for and offsetting the negative impacts of climate change.

The draft plan outlines the impacts of climate change, the highest risks and vulnerabilities the City is facing and the recommended adaptation actions to address those impacts.

The Vision:

St. Catharines will mitigate and adapt to climate change through the integration of plans, policies and procedures to ensure the City of St. Catharines takes action to remain innovative, sustainable and livable.

The Mission:

St. Catharines will be positioned to mitigate, respond and adapt to the local impacts of climate change, such as the rise of extreme heat, increased precipitation levels and extreme weather events. This will be accomplished through the knowledge of anticipated climate impacts, informed decision making and implement necessary actions to strengthen the City’s commitment to a resilient future.

The Goals:

To prepare for the future the Plan contains six goals that closely follow the trends of the climate projections and are the high-level intensions of the Corporate Climate Adaptation Plan.

  1. Prepare for hotter summers
  2. Prepare and respond to extreme weather events
  3. Develop a flood prevention strategy
  4. Improve stormwater management including the use of green infrastructure
  5. Prepare for high Lake Ontario water levels
  6. Re-think how the City addresses Climate Change

For the full list of adaptation actions under each goal, please refer to the draft Climate Adaptation Plan Appendix E.

Please watch the following video for more information on the Plan and its development below.


Questions and Feedback

Have a question on the Plan? Feedback for staff? Please leave comments and questions for staff using the Q&A tool below. Staff will consider all comments and work to answer any questions received before May 14.


Preparing for a changing future: Climate Change Adaptation Plan

Municipalities are at the front lines of the battle to deal with the impacts of climate change. Here in Niagara we have already seen extreme heat waves, freezing rain, heavy rainfall and severe windstorms. Based on climate projections more heat, more precipitation and more extreme-weather events are on the horizon; it’s why we are developing a Climate Change Adaptation Plan, to prepare for this future.

Local weather requires a local response. For the City to respond, and continue delivering services residents rely on a plan will address current risks and vulnerabilities; take proactive steps to adapt; and invest today in a more resilient future.

A changing future

Climate change will impact areas across Canada and around the globe differently. Here in Niagara projections predict more heat, more precipitation and more extreme weather.

More Heat

Rising general temperatures and increasing heatwaves means we need to protect staff working outdoors and the public. Programs and services, such as cooling centres, offering heat relief will need to continue, alongside the exploration of new programming or locations.

Heat doesn’t just impact individuals. With heat comes drought, and current commitments to increasing the urban tree canopy, alongside planting of native, drought-resistant plants will keep our city green.

More precipitation

Precipitation is expected to increase in all seasons but the summer, and with increases comes the risk of flooding. More precipitation necessitates more investments in stormwater infrastructure, as well as engaging the public on ways they can make a difference and reduce stormwater runoff at home.

Natural assets, such as local watercourses and Lake Ontario, also need to be focussed on, with efforts to protect shorelines, prevent erosion and protect public safety.

More extreme weather

Past extreme weather events that happened rarely are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity. Ensuring municipal operations and communication plans are in place to address these events with effective response procedures is a priority for the City. Essential services delivered by the City should be able to continue even through an extreme event to increase municipal resilience.

The Plan

A focus on City operations, assets and services is built on up-to-date climate projections; alongside previous public engagement through the Niagara Adapts Household Vulnerability Survey and Draft Vision and Goals Survey. Unlike mitigation efforts, which seek to stop climate change from happening through emission reduction and other actions, adaptation (and this plan) focuses on preparing for and offsetting the negative impacts of climate change.

The draft plan outlines the impacts of climate change, the highest risks and vulnerabilities the City is facing and the recommended adaptation actions to address those impacts.

The Vision:

St. Catharines will mitigate and adapt to climate change through the integration of plans, policies and procedures to ensure the City of St. Catharines takes action to remain innovative, sustainable and livable.

The Mission:

St. Catharines will be positioned to mitigate, respond and adapt to the local impacts of climate change, such as the rise of extreme heat, increased precipitation levels and extreme weather events. This will be accomplished through the knowledge of anticipated climate impacts, informed decision making and implement necessary actions to strengthen the City’s commitment to a resilient future.

The Goals:

To prepare for the future the Plan contains six goals that closely follow the trends of the climate projections and are the high-level intensions of the Corporate Climate Adaptation Plan.

  1. Prepare for hotter summers
  2. Prepare and respond to extreme weather events
  3. Develop a flood prevention strategy
  4. Improve stormwater management including the use of green infrastructure
  5. Prepare for high Lake Ontario water levels
  6. Re-think how the City addresses Climate Change

For the full list of adaptation actions under each goal, please refer to the draft Climate Adaptation Plan Appendix E.

Please watch the following video for more information on the Plan and its development below.


Questions and Feedback

Have a question on the Plan? Feedback for staff? Please leave comments and questions for staff using the Q&A tool below. Staff will consider all comments and work to answer any questions received before May 14.


Climate Adaptation Plan Q&A

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    What meaningful impact will a city of 150,000 make on global climate change? What proportion of St. Catharines energy is not already being supplied by hydro-power? How many trees are there in St. Catharines per resident? What carbon capture technology is more efficient than trees, per dollar spent?

    David P. asked 8 days ago

    Thank you for your questions. Since climate change is a global issue, we all have a part to play in mitigating or reducing our emissions that contribute to climate change. Provincially speaking our energy supply of electricity is predominantly hydro power, this however doesn’t consider our heating needs which relies heavily on natural gas. This Plan's focus was on adaptation actions for a local response to climate change and under goal 1 (preparing for hotter summers) we have two actions that relate to tree planting and management.

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    In regards to tree planting in the city, it is my understanding that it has generally been the pattern in urban areas to plant only or predominantly "male" trees, in order to limit the amount of tree seed cleanup from "female" trees. However, this has generally heightened the effects of seasonal allergies because the "male" trees are pollen generators as opposed to the "female" seed bearers. Will this be considered in future planting of trees?

    Autumn K asked 7 days ago

    Thank you for your question. We will consider this comment for the specific actions this relates to for tree selection and planting. 

    Research is also linking pollen production increases to climate change. Studies are finding that the spring and pollen season are arriving earlier and becoming longer due to climate change. This creates higher concentrations of pollen production, which is creating a longer allergy season. 

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    I have enjoyed seeing the depth of this plan and look forward to seeing actions taken. The many comments and points made by community members below are amazing points and I hope the team takes these into serious consideration. I have confidence that St. Catharines will implement and exceed this plan's goals for a safer, healthier future for our city and make true changes. We need more than just words, we need action and evidence-based change. This is imperative for long-term success and wellbeing. Thank you for your hard work in prioritizing this important issue!

    Amy. asked about 3 hours ago

    Thank you for your comments and your support!

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    Seeing as St. Catherine's has lots of land valuable for ecosystem stability. Aswell as precious farmland. Are there steps being taken to increase the protection of this land? Once we pave over farmland, we can't just un-pave it. People might complain, but if the environment is to be taken seriously, we need more high density urban housing, not more subdivisions. Rules need to be put in place, so that 5/10/20 years from now, the trees we plant today don't just bulldozed for tomorrows housing sprawl.

    John D asked 6 days ago

    Thank you for your question. Agricultural lands within St. Catharines are protected by the Province’s Greenbelt Plan. The Policies of the Greenbelt Plan, Regional Official Plan and City of St. Catharines Official Plan direct development to occur within the City’s urban boundary and protect Agricultural lands for Agricultural uses. 

    In regard to higher density urban housing, the Provincial Growth Plan designates a majority of the Downtown of St. Catharines as an Urban Growth Centre, intended to attract and accommodate a high concentration, mix and range of uses and activity. The City’s Official Plan should be referred to for more information regarding these designations, their boundaries, and the intended use of these lands.

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    Congratulations on the draft plan. I'm happy to see the City acknowledging the very serious challenges our planet faces due to increased heat and extreme weather. There are some things I would like you to consider regarding stormwater management and biodiversity. 1) mandate native street trees in the right of way. It should not be a choice. for properties with limited space or overheard wiring, plant native shrubs. 2) get rid of city lawns. go to low-mow alternatives like clover, wildflowers, or let the grass grow out and mow it only once or twice a year. This will lower climate emissions from mowers, fertilizers, and increase biodiversity and eliminate the need for pesticides. leave little green patches for recreational sports but all those right of ways along the road, canal etc should be permitted to grow out. planting more trees and shrubs along the canal and along highways also tames extreme winds, making winter recreation more pleasant. this will also result in more food and habitat for wildlife. 3) free downspout disconnection services for all residents. not everyone has the skill, $ or ability to disconnect their downspout. Reduced-cost rainbarrels should be available all year round and at convenient pickup areas around the city (i.e. accessible by transit). 4) free or discounted native trees/shrubs on demand for residents. A once- a- year scramble for trees is not going to help. Even if you offer little seedlings or perrennials that can be mailed to people. This is the Garden City after all. help people grow their native gardens and shade cover to reduce water use and stormwater runoff. make a yearly prize for best re-wilded garden; alternative lawn etc. remove any bylaws hindering folks from re-wilding their front lawns. 5) rip up asphalt parking lots at Port Dalhousie and other parks, replace with permeable pavement or just gravel. This will greatly enhance stormwater infiltration and retention. also provide financial initiatives for commercial properties to install permeable pavement, stormwater LID, and shade trees in their parking lots. the shade trees will cool the parking lots which lessens the urban heat island and can also relieve people and pet's stress in hot parked cars. offer a yearly maintenance check for business concerned with tree health/falling branches etc. 6) work with schools in the area and get their students involved in tree/shrub plantings on their property. Again, there is just way too much lawn. kids can also play on mulch, in the forest etc. Look to countries and cities making natural playgrounds for kids. the dirt is good for them, not pesticides and gas-powered mowers. 7) set up more community gardens. there are so many benefits to people from gardening: it helps with mental health, it is a social activity for all ages, it teaches people how to grow their own food and can supplement a poorer person's fresh food supply. work with senior's homes, apartment complexes etc.- provide materials like planter boxes and compost.

    Dperogie asked 8 days ago

    Thank you for your support, comments, and suggestions! We will consider your comments into the various actions proposed in this plan. 

    Additional information of current tree programs, tree species and planting initiatives can be found here: https://www.stcatharines.ca/en/livein/Trees.asp

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    What specifically is "green infrastructure" referring to in the Plan?

    daya.lye asked 6 days ago

    Great question. The Plan itself refers to green infrastructure and low impact development, you may also hear of the term natural infrastructure too. The Plan refers to green infrastructure as a natural vegetative system(s) that provide society with a variety of benefits (economic, social and environmental). The primary role of green infrastructure is stormwater management, which provides on-site water quantity and water quality treatment. 

    Examples include; urban trees/forests, engineered wetlands, rain gardens, permeable paving, rain barrels, meadows, parks and urban agriculture.

    St. Catharines is a supporting network partner for Unflood Ontario, a new initiative around the Greater Golden Horseshoe, related to natural infrastructure, find more information in the link below:  

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    Why are we still issuing permits to allow drive-thru fast food, ATM's, Pharmacies, etc? Progressive climate municipalities have long done away with new drive-thru's. Why are we so far behind the 8 ball on this

    Murk V asked 4 days ago

    Thank you for your question, this Plan however focused on adaptation actions. Actions focused on greenhouse gas reductions are outside of the scope of this plan. Your comments will be considered for future related initiatives. 

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    I am very pleased that the City is planning to prepare a long-needed master stormwater plan. However, since flooding is identified as one of the 2 biggest risk factors, I don't think the proposed wording "encourage and promote" is adequate. We need to REQUIRE low impact development, if we are really serious about solving the problems. Also, "where feasible" could be used as a easy way out of doing what is needed. We need to find ways to make low impact development feasible.

    Billran asked 4 days ago

    Thank you for your comments. We will consider your comments into the relevant actions in the plan as well as future initiatives.  

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    My apologies if this was already addressed in your report, but is there anyway the city could forego the cutting of roadside vegetation on city properties where driver's vision is not impeded and/or limit the cut to a swath of a meter or less? I'm thinking of lands beside the QEW in particular (Maywood/Mohawk drive--and I'm assuming the property on the residential side of the walls is cared for by the city) but I'm sure there are other city properties that could forego mowing. Perhaps plant native species of flowers for pollinators and vines to crawl up the cement walls. In addition to cooling, they would also aid in sound buffering. I realize that some people like the sterile, hot look and it would require a change in mindset but this present practice of 'clear-cutting' does not add to biodiversity and every little bit helps.

    Leona asked 2 days ago

    Thank you for your comment and suggestion. As you noted, depending on ownership land is maintained by different levels of government (typically the City, the Region and the Province). We will consider your comment for City owned property that this relates to.

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    I would second Phil W's comment regarding light coloured roofs. I'd like to build on this idea and suggest having light coloured roadways as well in order to better curb urban heat by literally painting roads white. As we know, light colours reflect rays back into the atmosphere whereas the dark absorbs the heat and significantly increases urban heat within the urban boundary layer. In combination with urban canopy cover, lighter colours across the city can significant benefit our efforts to control heat. Switching gears, I noticed the plan does not address parking. Parking lots significantly contribute to paving coverage and the reduction of green space availability. Lowering the parking requirements across the city would not only allow for more park dedication, but can also contribute to city and regional goals for affordable housing and reducing the reliance on the automobile. I can foresee many benefits. Overall, I am very glad that the City is taking these necessary steps to address the changing climate. We must be resilient.

    Sydney D asked 7 days ago

    Thank you for your comments and support!  We will consider your comments for the actions these relate to under goal 1 (prepare for hotter summers) and goal 4 (improve stormwater management, including the use of green infrastructure).