The previous Take Action Burlington post highlighted recognition the City of Burlington received from the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) for completing two phases under the climate mitigation badge. Work is now underway to develop Burlington’s first climate adaptation plan to help us better prepare for our changing climate.
Why are we working on a climate adaptation plan?
Our climate is changing. It is becoming warmer, wetter and wilder. No one is immune to the impacts of climate change.
Going through the process of developing a formal plan will help us to identify potential climate impacts to which we are vulnerable and come up with an action plan to address the risks.
The first step to developing a climate adaptation plan is to identify local climate projections based on climate science. The Climate Projections Report presents how Burlington’s climate is projected to change from the recent past (1976-2005) to the immediate future (2021-2050) and near future (2051-2080) for two emission scenarios (low and high). Most of the data in the report is based on the information presented in the Climate Atlas of Canada for the categories of hot weather, cold weather, temperature, precipitation and agriculture. Two additional categories were included in the report – extreme weather and Lake Ontario – with that data gathered from scientific studies and reports. As a result, these two categories might use different time frames and emission scenarios but are referenced as appropriate in the report. A total of about 40 climate variables are discussed in the Climate Projections Report.
At a very high level, the report states that Burlington is projected to experience warmer, wetter and wilder weather in the future. The first three images (warmer summers, warmer winters and wetter) below show some climate variables under a high emissions scenario for the years 2051-2080. The fourth image (wilder) shows the high emissions scenario for the dates specified.
Burlington has already experienced some of the impacts that we expect to see more of in the future such as extreme heat, high winds, extreme rainfall resulting in flooding, freezing rain, extreme cold and vector-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease. An interactive story map was created to highlight examples of some of impacts that have already taken place in Burlington as examples of what could become more common in the future.
What is Burlington Currently Doing Regarding Climate Adaptation?
Although Burlington does not yet have a formal climate adaptation plan, there are many programs or initiatives that are in place or underway to help us to adapt to our changing climate including:
- Stormwater Management Design Guidelines updated in June 2020
- Extended outdoor pool hours and opening of cooling centres during heat warmings
- Burlington flood reports and studies
- Urban Forest Master Plan (update to be launched in 2021)
- Sustainable Building and Development Guidelines (currently under review) within the new Official Plan as well as Chapter 4 (Environment and Sustainability) of the new Official Plan
- Burlington Emergency Management Program webpage with tips to prepare for specific emergencies such as power outages, severe winter and lightning storms, flood or flash flood and tornados
- Halton Region’s Enhanced Basement Flooding Prevention Subsidy Program
- Halton Region’s webpage about heat warnings and heat illness and how to take precautions and prevent health issues in extreme heat
- Halton Region’s webpage about Lyme disease and how to prevent tick bites
Links to Staff Report on Climate Adaptation
A staff report was presented to the Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services Committee of Council on March 4. Click on the links before to view the following:
- Staff Report
- Appendix A: Climate Projections Report
- Appendix B: Infographics
- Story map
Future Engagement Opportunities
Would you like to get involved to develop the climate adaptation plan? Check out Burlington’s Get Involved Burlington page as a project page will be created for climate adaptation similar to the one created for the Climate Action Plan (on climate mitigation). Once the page is up, you can register on the site to receive updates as to how you can get involved as we work together to develop this plan.
2 thoughts on “Burlington Prepares for a Changing Climate”
Good work, so needed. As I read “The Uninhabitable Earth,” I see and feel the dire predictions. We certainly need to divest from fossil fuels (e.g., build no more gas stations and highways, invest in public transit including between cities, invest in hydrogen fuel research) and stop food and construction waste. And lately I’ve been thinking that rather than work out of fear of extinction, we should work out of gratitude for this life-giving planet. We don’t need to become tree-huggers but we can live with greater respect for this dot in the universe. We can make significant changes and choices. It’s a positive stance that will spread joy to our grandchildren.
Thanks Margaret. You might be interested in the March 9th Bay Area Climate Forum which I promoted in a previous blog post which is about discussing climate change with others.