The impacts of climate change have been recognized as an important issue in Canada, Ontario, the Great Lakes Region, and for the City of Thunder Bay. Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy (2012) lists climate change as one of the main challenges facing the cities in the Great Lakes basin and the Government of Ontario is taking measures to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of changing weather patterns.
The Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change released a climate adaptation strategy and action plan in 2011 and a discussion paper in 2015 to address climate impacts and climate change in the province. Both documents acknowledge that adapting to climate change goes beyond the mandate of any one ministry, and recognize the need for adaptation in the communities where the consequences are felt.
The Lake Superior Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Report (2014), completed under the Lakewide Action Management Plan, also states that it is important for stakeholders and partners in the Lake Superior region to work together to adopt and implement climate management strategies based on current knowledge, and to gather information to inform future climate change adaptation actions.
It is widely recognized that the impacts of climate change affect the services and infrastructure of local governments. Thankfully, municipalities possess many of the tools necessary to increase resilience such as emergency response groups, standards, codes, and official plans. The 2014 Ontario Provincial Policy Statement makes reference to climate change in a number of policies and mandates local planning authorities to support climate change adaptation through land use and development decisions.
Ultimately, the purpose of developing a Climate Adaptation Strategy for the Corporation is to: 1) identify the potential impacts related to climate change in Thunder Bay and the risks they pose to our various service sectors and to our community; and, 2) propose possible actions to reduce risk and vulnerability associated with climate change impacts through adaptive measures.
The strategy will complement existing municipal processes as well as ongoing climate adaptation initiatives of the Province of Ontario and will serve as a resource for other municipalities in Northern Ontario, particularly along Lake Superior’s North Shore. Having a Climate Adaptation Strategy will also place the City in a strong position to access potential sources of funding as the federal and provincial governments integrate climate change adaptation and resilience considerations in infrastructure and asset planning decisions.