What is a Climate Adaptation Plan? Why does St. Catharines need one?
The purpose of a Climate Change Adaptation Plan is to identify and plan for projected impacts of climate change with the goal of reducing or minimizing the effects for a specified area, city or region. An adaptation plan can also aim to take advantage of emerging opportunities.
The actions of an adaptation plan are locally specific; therefore, the plan's actions have been tailored to address the highest climate risks and vulnerabilities the City of St. Catharines is expected to face. This will allow the City to take a more proactive approach towards preparing for a changing future.
How was planning initiated or started?
The City was successful in securing grant funding through the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program operated by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The grant funding allowed the City to hire a Climate Change Adaptation Coordinator.
Shortly after a new collaborative was formed by Brock University, called Niagara Adapts. This allowed seven local municipalities to be guided through the best practices on climate adaptation planning, development, and implementation.
The City then assembled a Climate Adaptation Team, an internal-cross departmental team to help inform and develop the plan.
Is the plan only focused on Adaptation?
This plan does primarily focus on municipal adaptation actions, however mitigation or reducing greenhouse gases was considered as a co-benefit to the adaptation actions. In total 13 actions support climate mitigation.
You can see which actions support mitigation in the Implementation Summary Chart located in Appendix E of the Plan.
Why is the Climate Adaptation Plan only focused on municipal operations?
The purpose of this plan is to address the adaptive measures that can be initiated by the City of St. Catharines though an internal focus on municipal operations and services. This allows the City to not only put actions in place with its scope of operations and control, but also lead by example.
Has the community been involved in the planning process?
Yes, this is our third community engagement opportunity.
Previous engagements have included the Household Vulnerability Survey in the Fall of 2019 and the Draft vision and goals survey in Winter of 2020.
Other touchpoints have been conducted such as panel discussions, presentations, in-person pop-up engagement events (pre-COVID) and a climate change webpage.
Are the recommendations in the plan all new actions?
Not all actions are entirely new to the City. Some programs or plans are already in place or underway that help address the City’s top climate impacts. This plan allows the City to build on previous work to enable the city to become more resilient.
For example, in response to hotter summers the City already operates cooling centers and intends to continue to do so. However, creating more education on heat stress and where people can seek these services helps build on a current practice.