Creating a More Resilient Yellowknife: Climate Change Impacts & Municipal Decision Making

Jake Pryor and Paul Cobb
Created: 5/29/2007 -


Canada’s municipalities are increasingly facing the realities of climate change impacts, none more so than northern communities. Early understanding of local climate change impacts and a pro-active approach to reducing the community’s vulnerabilities to them is essential to build a more resilient community.

The municipal decision making process has many components: staff reports; the work of standing committees and ad-hoc task forces; recommendations from external agencies; issues brought directly to the municipalities attention by committee members, community or Councilors; and ultimately Council decisions that set the course for the future of the community and its residents. Many of these decisions have a durable impact many years into the future. This future has significant uncertainties with regard to climate change impacts and how they might affect the longer-term outcome of those council decisions. Understanding these climate change scenarios, their degree of uncertainty and how they might affect major capital investment decisions is essential to ensuring efficient use of tax dollars.

The intent of this project is to set Yellowknife on a path to prudent risk management of climate change vulnerabilities. It will result in improvements to decision-making that gives appropriate significance to climate change impacts, and enables the municipality to adequately consider community safety, security and livability in every decision. The overall objective is to develop the tools, capacity, and decision-making processes necessary for the City of Yellowknife to systematically address any community climate change impact as it emerges.

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With a population of about 20,000, Yellowknife is the largest urban centre in the Northwest Territories and home to almost half the population. Built on gold, nurtured by government and growing with diamonds, Yellowknife boasts one of the highest household incomes per capita in Canada, and one of the lowest unemployment rates.


Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Development (socioeconomic)
Disaster Risk Management
Education / Outreach
Land Use Planning
Tourism / Recreation
Transportation / Infrastructure
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Capacity Building
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Host adaptation training or planning workshop
Create stakeholder engagement processes to develop and implement adaptation strategies
Conduct scenario planning exercise
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Managed retreat of built infrastructure, relocation of people/communities
Create or modify shoreline management measures
Governance and Policy
Develop / implement adaptation plans
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Infrastructure damage
Storms or extreme weather events
Sociopolitical Setting

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