The Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources’ Climate Adaptation Initiatives
The Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources (OCCIAR) is mandated to communicate climate science, facilitate the development and implementation of adaptation strategies, cultivate local and regional partnerships, and support the measures recommended by Ontario’s Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation. To this end, OCCIAR has undertaken a number of projects and programs, including creating and hosting stakeholder workshops and developing outreach materials to support adaptation action, as well as engaging in a planning process to support the development of an adaptation plan for Lake Simcoe.
Climatic changes in the province of Ontario will include increasing air temperatures, extreme storms and precipitation events, decreasing lake levels, increasing incidence of wildfire and pests, and habitat and biodiversity loss. The Government of Ontario created an Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation in 2007 and released Climate Ready: Ontario’s Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan 2011-2014 in 2011. OCCIAR supports these and other activities by building capacity for climate change adaptation in the province. As part of its mission, OCCIAR maintains the Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice (CACC; www.ccadaptation.ca), an interactive online resource that supports the exchange of information on climate change adaptation between provincial practitioners, including representatives from the government, academia, and industry. OCCIAR has also engaged in the Community Adaptation Initiative, the Ontario Regional Adaptation Collaborative, and the Lake Simcoe adaptation planning process.
1. Community Adaptation Initiative
The Community Adaptation Initiative is a climate outreach project supported by OCCIAR and the Clean Air Partnership and funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. The partners are working to develop outreach materials on impacts, vulnerability, and risks, and host training and planning workshops to build capacity and facilitate adaptation action among the private and public sectors.
- The Clean Air Partnership developed five case studies of municipal adaptation in practice in Ontario, including:
- Integrating Climate Change Adaptation into the Town of Ajax Official Plan
- Adapting to Changing Flood Patterns in the City of Hamilton
- Creating a Regional Climate Change Strategy in Peel
- Community Based Adaptation in Brampton Through the Sustainable Neighbourhood Retrofit Action Plan
- A Street Tree Survival Strategy in Toronto
- OCCIAR developed a series of fact sheets on different topics relevant to climate change adaptation in the region; these include:
- Adaptive Management in Climate Change Adaptation
- Agriculture: in a changing climate
- Ecosystems: in a changing climate
- Human Health: in a changing climate
- Forests and Forestry: in a changing climate
- Mining: in a changing climate
- Tourism and Recreation: in a changing climate
- Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation for Urban Regions
- Terrestrial Invasive Species: in a changing climate
- Aquatic Invasive Species: in a changing climate
- Risk Assessment Process in Climate Change Adaptation
- Vulnerability Assessment in Climate Change Adaptation
- A series of capacity building workshops have been held in different municipalities since 2010. These include Sudbury (October 2010), Kingston (February 2011), Hearst (August 2011), Kapuskasing (October 2011), Smooth Rock Falls (October 2011), Cochrane (November 2011), and Carleton Place (February 2012).
- Expert-led technical workshops organized by the Clean Air Partnership were held in 2011 to help prepare local stakeholders for climate change impacts in urban areas. These workshops were focused on emergency management and critical infrastructure, high rise residential buildings, electricity, urban forests, and health equity.
- OCCIAR hosted four webinars on boreal forests, climate science and the importance of adaptation, communicating climate change, and the 2011 Practitioner's Guide to Climate Change Adaptation in Ontario's Ecosystems.
- OCCIAR hosted two citizen panel workshops in order to gauge public understanding and opinion on Ontario’s adaptation progress. Citizen panels are typically groups of 15-20 individuals who interact with experts to discuss topics of interest and provide recommendations on policy initiatives. The first workshop, held in Sudbury in 2011 on November 12-13 and November 19-20, allowed experts to communicate climate science and impacts, mitigation and adaptation strategies, and climate policy in the province. Discussion between the climate experts and citizen participants included questions about the experts’ presentations and citizen concerns and values. The second workshop, held in Ottawa in 2012 on February 25-26 and March 4-5, included a brainstorming session to elicit citizen comments and recommendations, which were later presented in a final report to municipal, provincial, and federal government agencies. Experts at the workshops included representatives from the University of Waterloo, Laurentian University, Ministry of Natural Resources, Sudbury District Public Health Unit, and OCCIAR, among others.
2. Ontario Regional Adaptation Collaborative
OCCIAR is also a partner in the Ontario Regional Adaptation Collaborative. Through this funding, OCCIAR worked with partners to host two workshops and develop adaptation case studies.
- OCCIAR and the Hamilton Conservation Authority hosted a one-day workshop in Hamilton, Ontario in June 2011. Participants included representatives from the Hamilton Conservation Authority, the City of Hamilton, and local conservation groups. The goals included providing climate science and impacts information, a background on adaptation and examples, a review of available tools to help identify risks and vulnerabilities; in addition, participants discussed the role of Conservation Authorities in adaptation.
- OCCIAR and Conservation Ontario hosted three one-day workshops with Conservation Authority staff in Kingston, London, and Hamilton in February and March 2011. The goals were to discuss climate change effects on Conservation Authorities, exchange information on climate initiatives in Conservation Authorities, and discuss opportunities and challenges for mitigation and adaptation in operations.
3. Lake Simcoe Adaptation Planning Process
Lake Simcoe is the largest inland body of water in southern Ontario and supports a variety of wildlife and habitats and nearly 350,000 residents. The watershed has been the subject of conservation attention through the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, which includes a climate change policy directing provincial entities to create a climate change adaptation strategy for the watershed. OCCIAR, along with a number of partners from the University of Waterloo, Ministry of Natural Resources, and Ministry of the Environment, undertook a planning process to develop recommendations to support the development of a Lake Simcoe adaptation strategy. The planning process began in May 2010 and included vulnerability assessments of climate change impacts on agriculture; wetlands, streams, and rivers; water quality and quantity; infrastructure; biodiversity; invasive species; natural heritage areas; species at risk; nature-based tourism and recreation; vegetation cover; and wildlife. Through workshops and consultations with experts, more than 900 recommendations were generated to support adaptation; these items were reviewed and revised into 695 recommendations that were then prioritized based on strategic planning, legislation and policy, research, monitoring, communication, and planning and management. Ninety-two of the recommendations were identified as first-order priorities, which were presented and evaluated during an April 2011 workshop; from these discussions, 30 strategies were prioritized for inclusion in the development of the adaptation plan for the Lake Simcoe Watershed (Douglas et al. 2011).
Outcomes and Conclusions
OCCIAR is a major participant in building capacity for climate change adaptation in Ontario. Materials from the Community Adaptation Initiative, including reports, presentation slides, webinar recordings, and fact sheets are available on the website (http://www.climateontario.ca/p_cai.php).
Gregg, R. M. (2012). The Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources’ Climate Adaptation Initiatives [Case study on projects of the Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/ontario-centre-climate-impacts-and-adaptation-resources-climate-adaptation-initiatives (Last updated October 2012)