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January 23, 2008
Parks and Environment Committee hears from climate adaptation experts
  
At a special meeting of the City’s Parks and Environment Committee yesterday, six climate change adaptation experts delivered the latest research on climate change and talked about the expected impacts of climate change on Toronto. The experts were invited to help inform the development of a comprehensive Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for the City. The experts also made recommendations on adaptation priorities and measures.

The experts were:

  • Dr. David Pearson, Co-Chair Ontario Expert Panel on Climate Adaptation and Professor, Laurentian University
    Dr. Pearson provided an overview of the anticipated impacts of climate change on the city and its implications, and the activities of the Ontario Expert Panel on Climate Adaptation as it relates to Toronto.

  • Darrel Danyluk, P. Eng., Chair, Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee, Engineers Canada
    Danyluk discussed the impacts of climate change as it relates to infrastructure. He chairs a national committee that is developing engineering protocols to assess infrastructure vulnerability to climate change.

  • Don Haley, P. Eng., Water Management Technical Advisor, Climate Change, Watershed Management Division, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
    Haley discussed the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, and described the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s work in predicting and preventing the flooding associated with severe weather.

  • Mark Yakabuski, President, Insurance Bureau of Canada
    Yakabuski provided the insurance industry’s perspective on extreme weather events.

  • Don MacIver, Adaptation and Impacts Research Group, Environment Canada
    MacIver outlined the latest scientific research on the environmental, social, and economic risks of climate change in the GTA.

  • Dr. Monica Campbell, Manager, Toronto Public Health
    Dr. Campbell discussed the anticipated effects of climate change on the health of Torontonians and further actions to be considered to protect public health.

    The experts agreed that Toronto will be affected by climate change in a number of ways, including more frequent and severe weather events, extreme heat, urban flooding, drought, and the introduction of new and invasive species. They also agreed that action is needed in a broad number of areas to protect human health, our environment and our economy.

    “While mitigation remains on the forefront of our climate change agenda, it’s clear that we must take action now to adapt to the realities of climate change that we see today, and the realities we will see with greater intensity in the future,” said Mayor David Miller. “National governments are falling behind in taking action on this important issue so it’s up to cities to act and that’s what Toronto is committed to doing.”

    The development of a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy is a key component of the City’s Climate Change, Clean Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan, which was unanimously adopted by Council in July, 2007. While the climate change plan outlines a mitigation strategy to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, the adaptation strategy will identify the actions needed to protect our environment, economy, health and infrastructure from the impacts of climate change that have already begun to occur.

    “This meeting gives us an excellent starting point for the development of a comprehensive adaptation strategy,” said Councillor Paula Fletcher, Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee. “Climate change will change how we do things, and I’m pleased to see so many people from so many sectors and organizations joined us yesterday. Working as a team will help us break down the silos in our thinking and address the social, technical and financial issues that require immediate action.”

    The experts’ presentations, and the City’s Climate Change, Clean Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan are available on the City’s website at www.toronto.ca/environment.

    Next steps include developing an adaptation strategy framework document to facilitate public engagement on the issue of climate adaptation. The public will be invited to make deputations on the adaptation strategy at a special meeting of Parks and Environment Committee in May.

    Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won more than 70 awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.


    Media contacts:

    Councillor Paula Fletcher, Chair, Parks and Environment Committee, 416-392-4060, 416-200-5810 (cell), councillor_fletcher@toronto.ca

    Lawson Oates, Director, Toronto Environment Office, 416-392-9744, loates@toronto.ca


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