Strategic Directions

“All levels of government and all sections of society have a responsibility to become informed and to take appropriate action within their mandates to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change.”
― ICLEI Canada, 2012

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45 potential adaptation actions are presented under seven strategic directions to guide the implementation of the strategy. These actions were developed specifically for the Corporation of the City of Thunder Bay to formalize and build upon the City’s existing adaptive capacity, increase resilience, and reduce risk.

Details relevant to the implementation of each action, including primary leads, potential partnership sectors, associated plans and strategies, estimated costs, estimated duration, and timelines can be found in the Implementation Framework in Appendix A. Each action has a number which corresponds to goals and objectives it seeks to realize and as well as its priority ranking. For example, action 1.1a relates to goal one, objective one and has a higher priority than action 1.1b.

The prioritization of the actions may change to reflect the City of Thunder Bay’s existing decision-making processes, evaluation, annual review, and external factors. Key actions and quick wins have been identified based on the priority rating of each action, their role as precedent actions, estimated duration, and estimated costs.

4.1. Integrate

Integrate climate adaptation into plans, policies, procedures, projects, and investment decisions.

Policy and regulatory choices can be powerful enablers of adaptation to help implement technical, behavioural, and financial measures at an optimal scale. Integrating concepts of climate resilience into the City’s existing processes allows for adaptation to be implemented at the municipal scale through planning, design, and the allocation of human, capital, and material resources. Climate resilience should be considered within every department to make Thunder Bay resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Key Actions

1.1 a: Evaluate existing projects that address climate change impacts or considerations to identify opportunities for accelerated implementation.

1.1 b: Create and implement a process to review and assess all new standards, policies, plans, and projects so that climate change adaptation is considered within them.

Quick Win Actions

1.1 c: Review current Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Policies, Plans, and Strategies for alignment with adaptation and update where necessary with the goal of strengthening using an adaptation lens.

2.1 b: Identify and integrate extreme weather events and impacts into all corporate emergency response testing and plans.

3.1 a: Review land-use planning and policies from a climate change adaptation lens to ensure that the impacts of extreme weather events are addressed.

4.1 b: Assess and prioritize actions in the Stormwater Management Master Plan using a climate change lens on an annual basis.

Other Actions

5.1 b: Assess and prioritize actions from the Urban Forest Management Plan using a climate change lens on an annual basis.

4.2. Assess Potential Threats

Understand the risks specific to climate change impacts.

The potential risks of climate change impacts must be understood to make informed decisions to increase the resilience of the City. Gaining a better understanding of the potential threats of climate change impacts will allow the City to target adaptation actions where these are most necessary and make better use of resources. In some cases, specialized information is needed to make informed decisions to increase the resilience of the City and develop appropriate adaptation policies.

Key Actions

3.2 b: Conduct a ‘threat mapping’ exercise to identify critical areas that would be impacted by extreme weather events and pose risks to infrastructure and populations.

4.2 a: Conduct a detailed evaluation of potential impacts from extreme weather events on municipal (or City-owned) infrastructure.

4.2 c: Identify non-municipal infrastructure/facilities that provide critical support for City and determine their vulnerability to extreme weather events.

Other Actions

4.2 b: Conduct a ‘threat mapping’ exercise to identify critical City infrastructure and facilities that would be impacted by extreme weather events, and prioritize and implement projects to protect them.

4.2 d: Evaluate municipal long-term drinking water storage capacity with a climate change adaptation lens.

5.2 a: Identify natural heritage features and conduct threat mapping to identify priority areas that are at greatest risk to climate change and work with partners to conserve and reclaim them.

4.3. Increase Resilience

Increase resilience of infrastructure and natural landscapes.

Protecting infrastructure systems (grey and green) and the natural environment is essential to achieve the City of Thunder Bay’s adaptation vision. The actions presented here aim to increase the resilience of municipal infrastructure and our natural landscapes to maintain and enhance the services they provide.

Urban infrastructure will play a significant role in the resilience of Thunder Bay in the future since infrastructure renewal, upgrades, and new development are all key actions for cities adapting to climate change. The effectiveness, lifespan, and long-term financial implications of municipal infrastructure must be evaluated through a climate resiliency lens to prevent damage and improve the resilience of the City.

Protecting and restoring natural systems is also a crucial aspect of climate change adaptation. The City’s natural landscapes not only provide resiliency services but also mitigate the impacts of climate change and increase sustainability. Healthy ecosystems absorb carbon, retain soil (prevent erosion), clean the air, buffer against floods, absorb moisture, create shade for cooling, help species cope with changes, provide a source of local food, and improve quality of life.

Key Actions

4.1 a: Identify suitable best management practices for design, construction, and maintenance that can be adopted and implemented into City standards and projects.

4.3 a: Identify new and existing best management practices for green infrastructure, land-use planning, and design which address climate change impacts to the community, and review annually.

Quick Win Actions

5.1 a: Identify priority resilient species for planting.

5.1 c: Identify incentive programs that could be adopted to support the conservation and planting of the City’s urban forest.

5.2 b: Support the preservation of natural features in new developments through policy.

5.2 c: Develop policies and bylaws to protect existing and prioritized natural areas.

5.1 d: Support the establishment of a local tree nursery which grows regionally-specific tree species.

Other Actions

4.2 e: Provide support to non-municipal infrastructure/facilities to increase resiliency and recovery.

4.3 c: Identify and implement incentives to promote the adoption of green infrastructure on private, commercial, and institutional properties.

4.4. Inform & Equip

Provide information, tools and training on climate adaptation to facilitate and accelerate action.

Climate adaptation should occur across the whole community including at the governmental, institutional, commercial, and household levels. The tailoring of climate information is a crucial step in making sure that the information is not only understood but also used in an adaptation framework. These actions aim to develop knowledge and tools to empower City staff and community members to reduce the risks of climate change impacts and maximize opportunities.

Providing tools and training to City staff will play an important role in the successful implementation of adaptation actions across all departments and divisions. With improved information and tools, City staff will be better positioned to identify, prioritize, and implement climate adaptation actions. Educating residents and engaging community stakeholders is also a crucial step in increasing the City’s resilience. Everyone must be aware of the potential risks associated with climate change impacts and extreme weather in order to build resilience within the community as a whole since resilience is not just a function of government alone.

Key Actions

III.ii: Train City staff within various departments to establish cross-departmental adaptation specialists.

Quick Win Actions

3.3 a: Investigate collating various organizations’ educational materials into a central resource database/portal to be shared amongst community organizations.

Other Actions

III.i: Provide resources and training to staff to support the City’s adaptation efforts.

IV.i: Develop external communication, promotion, and education materials focused on a variety of target audiences in the community.

IV.ii: Develop communication and education materials to support citizens’ response and recovery from extreme weather events and to increase resiliency.

IV.iii: Improve current efforts to communicate the City’s emergency response plans to the public and raise awareness of the Municipal Emergency Control Group.

IV.iv: Develop education and communication materials promoting the use and benefits of green infrastructure.

1.2 b: Develop and share a climate change adaptation tool kit with resources to support administration and community agencies.

4.3 b: Prepare a tool kit or resource kit for City administration with information on available best practices and latest innovations in green infrastructure relating to community and land-use planning and design.


Plan for the financing and long term implementation of adaptive actions.

Climate change presents real financial risks and opportunities for the City of Thunder Bay. Setting aside resources dedicated to climate adaptation will be necessary to successfully implement this strategy and benefit from the long-term cost savings associated with proactive adaptation measures as described in Section 2.3. However, uncertainty surrounding the economics of resiliency, including cost-benefit or return on investments, can be a barrier to financing climate adaptation.

An understanding based upon the costs of action versus inaction is needed to ensure the actions are given due importance within the context of climate adaptation and are not carried out in isolation. This economic knowledge is needed to guide adaptation investment choices, policy decisions, and spur action on adaptation.

While there are numerous policies and instruments available to local governments to increase investment in climate change adaptation, it is also clear that municipal financing will not be sufficient to fund the implementation of all actions identified at the local level. Additional funds will be required from other levels of government and the private sector to support the City’s efforts.

Key Actions

I.i: Identify financial implications and incorporate climate adaptation priorities into existing short and long term financial projections for the City of Thunder Bay.

II.i: Work with partners to lobby provincial and federal governments to provide financial support for recovery efforts.

II.ii: Work with partners to lobby provincial and federal governments to support increasing funding to improve infrastructure resiliency.

Quick Win Actions

I.ii: Investigate a funding model to support recovery from extreme weather events and other climate change impacts.

4.6. Network & Collaborate

Investigate opportunities to increase the resiliency of the region through networks and strategic collaboration.

The City has a strong foundation upon which to build climate resilience but the impacts of climate change go beyond the responsibilities and capacity of the City of Thunder Bay as a Corporation. In order to truly increase resilience of the community, all citizens, businesses, organizations, and levels of government must work together. There must be opportunities for horizontal learning and the sharing of resources.

Collaboration across jurisdictions, disciplines and sectors is at the core of what creates effective solutions to address adaptation priorities.64 Partnerships are powerful mechanisms to enhance resilience since they bring together stakeholders from various sectors, build on their strengths, and create capacity that would not otherwise exist. Like other municipalities, the City of Thunder Bay has much to gain from collaborative work and can play a central role in bringing stakeholders together to address challenges of adaptation planning and implementation.

Quick Win Actions

2.1 a: Keep current knowledge of local and regional capacity, and identify opportunities to improve response and recovery through partnerships (i.e. municipal, Aboriginal, private, NGO).

Other Actions

1.2 a: Create and/or leverage existing regional groups to share best practices and information.

2.3 a: Develop and implement a Community Recovery Strategy or Framework that includes regional and Aboriginal communities.

4.7. Respond & Recover

Plan for efficient response and recovery to extreme weather events and disasters.

Minimizing damage to homes, livelihoods, and people is a paramount function of resilience just as the need for rapid rebound when extreme events cannot be avoided. Continued operation and delivery of critical infrastructure and services, even when an event exceeds the normal coping capacity of organizations and governments, is important for the resilience of the community as a whole. The City of Thunder Bay has excellent emergency response procedures in place which can be strengthened through a climate adaptation lens.

Quick Win Actions

2.1 c: Evaluate corporate emergency response plans and look for opportunities to integrate plans or areas where plans can support each other.

2.2 a: Identify the services, organizations and private sector services that are available to support recovery from an extreme weather event.

2.2 b: Improve internal communication strategy and identify staff resources to support citizens during an extreme weather event as well as during recovery from an extreme weather event.

3.1 b: Evaluate the feasibility for the development of a neighbourhood-level response program.

3.1 c: Investigate opportunities to integrate other organizations’ communication/emergency plans and information for high-need/hard-to-reach populations to support the City’s first response and recovery efforts.

3.2 a: Evaluate community preparedness for response to extreme weather events and promote the importance of emergency response plans for community organizations and businesses.

3.3 b: Update and formalize first response communications plan/strategy to ensure it responds to the needs of the City and clarifies roles of external agencies in communicating to the public.

5.0 Moving Forward
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