Climate & Energy Goals

Climate Change Adaptation: Towards a Resilient City


The City's Climate Change Action Plan was followed by the Climate Adaptation Strategy, Ahead of the Storm: Preparing Toronto for Climate Change, which outlined a number of actions that will improve the City's resilience to climate change and extreme weather events. The reports, Resilient City: Preparing for Extreme Weather Events and Resilient City - Preparing for a Changing Climate were adopted by City Council in December 2013 and July 2014, respectively, continuing to further the City's efforts in creating a more resilient Toronto.

What is Climate Change Adaptation?

Climate change adaptation can be defined as initiatives and measures taken to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems to actual or expected climate change effects. Examples of adaptive actions include raising river or coastal dikes, and substituting more temperature-shock resistant plants for sensitive ones, etc.

Toronto's Climate Change Risk Assessment Tool

The City has developed its own climate change risk assessment tool (process and software). The most important benefit of the tool is that City service and infrastructure providers will be better able to identify and mitigate climate change-related risks and take action to reduce the impact of severe weather on infrastructure and key services. This will help avoid significant costs and service disruptions that could harm citizens, business operations, and the natural environment in Toronto.

Climate change risk assessments have been conducted in two City divisions: Transportation Services and Shelter, Support & Housing Administration. Other divisions will follow. A Resilient City Working Group has been formed to facilitate this process.

Examples of Adaptive Actions

The City, residents and businesses are taking action to make our buildings and infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather and improve the city's overall sustainability, including:

  • Planting more trees to increase shade and to clean and cool the air
  • Increasing the size of storm sewers and culverts to handle greater volumes of runoff
  • Proactive pruning of trees to reduce damage to property and electrical power lines during wind storms
  • Increasing the inspection and maintenance of culverts on a regular basis and especially after storm events
  • Using rain barrels to reduce runoff and capture rainwater for reuse
  • Installing permeable surfaces (rather than asphalt, for example) to reduce runoff from heavy rainfalls
  • Landscaping with drought-resistant plants
  • Changing the slope of the land at the lot level to direct runoff away from proeprty that can be damaged by excess surface water
  • Installation of basement backflow preventers and window well guards to reduce flooding risks
  • Using cool/reflective materials on the roofs of homes and buildings to reduce the urban heat island effect
  • Changing some city workers' uniforms to lighter colours during the summer months
  • Health programs such as West Nile, Lyme Disease, Shade Policy, Cooling Centres, Smog Alerts and the Air Quality Index

More information