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Niagara Falls climate plan going to council this month

The City of Niagara Falls has released a draft climate plan following ICLEI Canada’s BARC (Building Adaptative and Resilient Communities) Milestones 1-3 process, which has been used in hundreds of Canadian municipalities. Climate projections and data were used to identify and prioritize which climate change impacts put the city at highest risk.

The draft is now available online for review and recommendations will be presented to city council next month.

There are 41 actions designed to build a “climate-ready” Niagara Falls and address the 19 prioritized climate change impacts. Many of the actions build upon current initiatives within the city, including those that are perhaps not labelled as ‘climate action’.

One goal is to “design, construct, and maintain physical infrastructure that is resilient to climate impacts while considering affordability, energy efficiency, natural assets, and reduction in greenhouse gasses.” The following actions are recommended:

  • Ensure infrastructure risk assessments include climate change considerations and buildings are built or retrofitted accordingly, using best practices in the design, construction, and maintenance to minimize service disruptions and increase resilience.
  • Improve the resilience and sustainability of transportation infrastructure.
  • Identify opportunities and resources to include carbon reductions and climate resilience in buildings when new builds and retrofits or renovations are planned, including updates to building envelope, flood reduction measures, and site level energy generation.

The city will also consider actions to manage land use, including:

  • Develop ‘green design guidelines’ and update engineering design standards for new developments and retrofits that include low-impact development and green infrastructure to manage heat and flooding. Review zoning by-laws to encourage densification that will provide net energy and land savings and conserve or enhance ecological functions.
  • Update parking lot bylaws to reduce parking requirements and require a minimum amount of permeable surface and green infrastructure and trees in order to provide on-site stormwater management and shade, and promote alternative transportation.
  • Identify and preserve land for future green spaces through the Official Plan and By-laws.
  • Integrate natural assets into the City’s asset management plans.

Also, council will look at ways to ensure energy supply and infrastructure are “sufficient, affordable, net-zero and resilient to weather-related disruptions.” The report recommendations include:

  • Identify at-risk energy and communication infrastructure and opportunities to increase resilience to power outages as a result of increased demand or extreme weather.
  • Undertake a greenhouse gas inventory and undertake actions to reduce GHG emissions from corporate and community energy sources, working off of the Region’s recently completed corporate GHG inventory.
  • Monitor peak energy consumption to better understand how strategies to mitigate brown and blackouts can be implemented.
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