Date: Nov/Dec 2013
Location: Evergreen Brick Works
Publication: Water Canada, Pages 12 – 17

After this summer’s costly and tragic floods, how are municipalities preparing for the new normal?

Hot on the Heels  of  the  country’s severe summer floods, Water Canada, along with co-hosts XCG Consultants and RWDI Inc., brought together a group of practitioners at the Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto to discuss and provide some insight on how to address infrastructure resiliency in the face of a changing climate.

After a tour of the grounds with general manager David Stonehouse—Evergreen Brick Works was built in a floodplain, but with great care (see “Flood on the Front Lines,”— Ron Haley, a senior consultant at XCG Consultants who specializes in risk assessment and management, opened the panel.

“The July 8 storm in Toronto not only emphasized the sensitivity of some of our infrastructure, but also the need to respond and prepare for those events,” he said. “Every municipality, especially the ones around the table here, is struggling with the very same issues: not enough resources in house; not enough money in the budgets to do a proper job or do what they would like to do. Things need to change.”

How much change is required? At which stage in climate-change planning are most municipalities? We began the panel by asking our municipal representatives.

“We’re moving slowly toward low-impact development within the City of Hamilton, realizing that a mature downtown core with combined sewers is a real challenge in terms of fitting in additional infrastructure,” said Udo Ehrenberg, City of Hamilton’s manager of infrastructure and source water planning. “We’re certainly engaged in the concept of developing a climate change strategy. While we don’t have one that is council approved, it’s in the works. Out of necessity we have responded to the impact of climate change on stormwater services, but in terms of public consultation, and a counsil-endorsed plan, we’re not there yet.

York Region is similar, said Mike Rabeau, the region’s manager of engineering. “We don’t have an official climate change policy, but climate change is addressed through our corporate strategic plan and sustainability strategy whereby goals are filtered down through departmental programs to achieve official plan requirements.”

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