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

The online open house has concluded. Thank you to all those who took time to ask questions or provide feedback.


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

The online open house has concluded. Thank you to all those who took time to ask questions or provide feedback.


CLOSED: This discussion has concluded, thank you to all who participated.
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    Congratulations on the Climate Change Adaptation Plan and thank you for holding this forum. Does the Horticulture Management Plan include a goal in terms of percentage of public park land to be naturalized? What kinds of steps are being taken in order to promote biodiversity and build ecological resilience in our natural spaces against the expected impacts of climate change? Does the City plan to discontinue the use of gas-powered leaf blowers? Thank you!

    Mike Kraft asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your support and questions! The details of the Horticultural Management Plan will be released later this year, stay tuned for more details.

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    Stop signs just to slow down traffic, make no sense, this will kill thousand of kids and olders in the future, my truck burned 5 time more fuel at any " stops signs " stop killing people remove those signs that are not needed. Solution install yiel signs if you must put something.

    surge ro asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for the comment. This Plan was focused on adaptation actions and transportation falls under climate mitigation, which is out of scope for this Plan.

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    If the City truly believes that summers will grow exponentially higher in the future, how does it make any sense to restrict the potential use of beaches and waterfront by implementing fees. It's borderline extortion to look at accessing beachs as a revenue source. I recognize that paid parking does not preclude people from accessing the beach, but the growing voices on council to monetize beachfront is egregious on every level. The City should do everything it can to keep beaches free like other parks -- put humans before revenue in other words. On another note, if you truly want to impact climate and, by extension, wildlife like pollinators, the City needs to rethink its gardening strategy. Many ciities are implementing policy to let right of ways like hydro corridors grow wild to create native habitat for pollinators and migrating bird species. The neat and tidy grasscovered lands along roads is expensive to maintain and detrimental to wildlife. Grow Wild should be a strategy, with more trees and more native perrenials and wild grasses included. As a "garden city" we don't quite cut it. Paying lip service to climate change without real action is a waste of time. You can't declare a climate emergency and continually cave to developers cutting down full forests (like east Port Weller) and mature trees around the city.

    DavidDeRocco asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your comments and suggestions. The suggestions of plants and trees will be considered especially in relation to action 4 (Continue to implement the Urban Forestry Management Plan and achieve the Urban Canopy Target) and 5 (Implement and support the City of St. Catharines Horticultural Management Plan).

    For the beaches, as you mentioned the parking fees do not limit residents accessing the beach and was a COVID-19 measure due to the impacts experienced last year at the beaches. The parking fees are in place for non-residents only or those who do not have a parking pass. Residents are able to get a seasonal, parking pass allowing free parking with no time limit at Sunset Beach and Lakeside Park parking lots. This is to help ensure local residents have access to use the beaches and cool off in the summer. More information on free parking passes for St. Catharines residents can be found here: https://www.stcatharines.ca/en/playin/Beaches.asp

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    Re: Restoration of watercourses Over the years, I have seen changes to walkers creek, specifically between Regent and Scott St. in St. Catharines. I lived in a house with the creek behind our back yard as a child and I have watched it change from a creek with rats and snakes that don’t see property lines, to a cleaner creek after the city straightened it out and put large rocks and sod in it to help prevent erossion. Before the city did this there were times where storms would almost fill the creek to within a foot of the edge of it. Yes, after this work there were no signs of rats and some people planted trees on the edge of the bank and their yards and it was nice for them if the sun was hot it would provide some shade and relief from the hot sun during a part of the day depending on where their house was located. The city was maintaining the creek nicely for a few years but things started to change. About 11 years ago, people were determined to naturalize the creek again and they started planting vegetation that would attract wild animals. Do you think it is appropriate to build residential areas and then use green space including creek beds to attract wildlife? This includes bugs and insects that can be potentially harmful to people, pets and their homes. When trees are too tall they can fall down perhaps from a storm or sickness or age and damage homes, yards, vehicles and people. Some trees may drop sap and nuts in addition to a lot of leaf drop that may be costly for some people to clean up. Then you may also have residents who want to make a bed of leaves for gardening, etc. and it becomes a home for rats and this I have witnessed for myself. Some people are unable to afford the cost of removing large trees and are unable to do it themselves. Vegetation or nuts that sit in water and does not get cleaned up can also become very stinky for residents that live beside it. Houses are not mobile and isn’t the city and the builder responsible for the health and safety of the people who live in it? The city can keep green space low maintenance by planting things that are suitable for low maintenance and this keeps future costs down for everyone. If people have warmer weather they usually like to open their window. Large trees in residential areas usually have large squirrel populations and yes they climb all over your house and try to get into your house and this causes homeowners many issues. If you could not afford air conditioning and it’s maintenance expenses for your home, how do you get fresh air if you can not open your windows? Also, severe weather may interfere with residents having hydro to maintain air conditioning. To be environmentally friendly now and into the future isn’t it a good idea to focus on making residential neighbourhoods safe for people, so that people can survive extreme heat even without the use of electricity. This includes areas being safe for residents to be outside without worrying about dangers from wildlife and yes other people in the neighbourhood should keep their pets on a restraint to prevent them interfering with their neighbours enjoyment of their property or city property. This is also safer for postal workers and delivery people. Also, people need to feel safe with a window being open. People need to be held accountable for breaking into people’s homes even spying on people from a distance with remote devices or whatever they use to do it. People have to be held accountable for using cameras because they might be using it to break into their home or to take advantage of them. Guns are another safety issue for residents especially when they are left vulnerable in extreme weather events. Some people laugh at shooting BBguns in back yards but it is not a toy and many people have been seriously injured because this issue has not been taken seriously. Guns should be banned in residential areas at the very least because people go the store to buy their food and they are not settlers searching for their next meal. No one wants to be used for someone’s target practice and excuses of boredom, mental issues, playing or drug use, do not undo the harm. Another issue to consider is people walking in extreme heat conditions. There could be shelters along the roadside something that provides shade from the sun or cover from rain but not enclosed so people can run in any direction if necessary and there should be a place for people to sit down as well. Perhaps the city could hire people to assist someone who feels they need help for instance they are unable to walk home maybe injured or sick; thereby not using emergency services for lesser issues. City parks should have a covered shelter with seating areas or a pavilion for people to escape from the sun and rain too. Ventilation in apartment buildings and housing is also important. Does the city check all the apartment units and housing to ensure things are in proper working order and that people have proper safe clean air to breathe. How can residents know that they are living in safe clean housing? The city must ensure that all residents have shelter year round. Is there adequately priced housing for residents of all income levels? Can the city construct individual living spaces for homeless residents? If people are without homes they need a personal bathroom, bed and a place to cook and store food and an address so that they can be fit to work or go to school and to prevent getting involved in crime, drugs or unemployable situations. People need to feel safe and cleaning things themselves and this gives them responsibility. In addition, the city should encourage businesses to provide employees with at least a fair living wage to prevent homeless situations. Reduce crime and victims by showing that all people are important to our city.

    Carolin asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your comments and suggestions. We will take your comments into consideration for the specific actions they relate to within this Plan. 

    Please find the answers to some of your comments below;

    • Private property adjacent to creeks and parks should be considered to avoid negative impacts. Often this must be addressed on a site-by-site basis as the characteristics of the ravines vary across the City. For example, the type of erosion works may be constrained by how much City-owned land is available for the site.
    • Emergency services in terms of extreme heat and cooling centers are available for those who need to escape the heat.
    • Park space with the inclusion of sun and rain shelters are offered at larger parks with higher occupancy, with smaller parks utilizing the benefits of trees for shade and heat relief 
    • Private property and buildings not owned by the City were out of the scope of this Plan, however consideration of these topics could be applied in future planning efforts. 
    • Vulnerable population groups and considerations were included in this plan for specific City services and programing. Private business operations were out of scope of this Plan.  
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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 5 months 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 5 months 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 4 months 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 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 months 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:  

Page last updated: 17 May 2021, 07:13