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Climate Change Adaptation

Climate change continues to bring challenges that municipalities need to face head-on and manage proactively. The City’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Implementation Plan have been developed to address the physical, economic, social, and ecological impacts of climate change.

Climate Change in the City of Barrie

Climate within the City of Barrie is changing. Increases in mean annual temperatures, changes in the timing and average annual precipitation and increases in the intensity, duration and frequency of extreme storm events are taking place. These changes may pose challenges to the City and its residents that we have to work cooperatively to prepare for.

Here are examples of local climate change related events, their risks and what the City residents can do to minimize the impacts:

Ice Storm
March 2016: Caused damage or destroyed trees on 70% of Barrie’s streets. The ice storm that swept through Southern Ontario was estimated at more than $25 million in insurance claims.
Wind Storm
April 2018: This storm left more than 3,500 residents in Barrie without power. Wind gusts were up to 100 km/hr, strong enough to rip shingles off roofs and toss loose objects into the air.
Flooding Events
Short, high intensity rain events are becoming more prevalent in Barrie. Urban environments include large areas of paved surfaces that make them sensitive to heavy downpours. Rain cannot infiltrate into the ground so it immediately runs off the surface and may exceed storm drain capacity and cause urban flooding. The flooding events that occurred in June 2005 near Dunlop at Kidds Creek and in June 2014 along Lakeshore Drive were caused by heavy rains which overwhelmed drainage systems.
Heatwave of 2018: Heatwaves are projected to become more frequent and prolonged. The extreme heat warning that occurred in June and July 2018 was one of the most significant heat waves in recent history. The event caused not only stress to residents but also the power grid, with temperatures reaching above 40⁰C with the humidex.
Water main breaks
Climate change is causing very high and low temperature extremes as well as more frequent freeze-thaw cycles. In 2014, extremely cold temperatures in January and February resulted in a huge jump in watermain breaks, going from the average of approximately 11 each year to 34. There were 105 incidences of frozen services, requiring initiation of a Frozen Service Mitigation project which saw the lowering of approximately 132 services below the frost line.

What is the City doing?

The City has developed a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and accompanying Implementation Plan to build community resilience to the risks of Climate Change. Read the full list of goals and their implentation status in the detailed Climate Actions document​.

Cross-Cutting Actions

Cross-cutting actions apply to a variety of goals. By taking a more holistic approach to maintaining more effective, efficient and sustainable application of resources, the City uses actions to integrate climate change considerations into existing plans, policies and decision making frameworks. Actions include:

  • Incorporate climate change into the Official Plan.
  • Integrate climate change considerations into Barrie’s existing plans and policies.
  • Empower residents and businesses of the City’s climate change efforts through education and awareness.
  • Develop education initiatives for residents and businesses to create awareness of the City’s climate change efforts.

The goals below outline what the City is doing to adapt to Climate Change:

​Goal 1: Maintain Public Health and Safety

Barrie will experience more severe and potentially life threatening weather and climate changes (e.g. extreme heat and freezing rain events) and impacts due to vector-borne diseases (e.g. West Nile and Lyme disease) which are expected to increase in the future.

​Goal 2: Minimize Risks to Building and Properties

As a result of changing climate conditions, the City has experienced more incidents of basement flooding, cracked foundations and damaged landscapes. More frequent extreme weather events, overland flooding and changes to freeze-thaw cycles affect the way in which buildings and landscapes are designed, constructed, managed and maintained.

​Goal 3: Strengthen Infrastructure Resilience

Recent climate events, such as increased rainfall intensity causing runoff and erosion leading to wash-outs, have offered insight into what continued changes might mean for Barrie’s infrastructure. Recognizing that climate change will strain Barrie’s critical infrastructure, the City is committed to strengthening the resilience of its infrastructure systems while managing water naturally through the protection of wetlands and greenspace. Strengthening the integrity of City infrastructure to climate change and other factors is necessary to prevent disruptions of essential services and ensure safety of the community.

​Goal 4: Help Local Businesses and the Tourism Industry Adapt to Changing Conditions

Climate change can pose significant risks to businesses, not only for their operations, but also to their suppliers, employees, customers and people living in the areas in which they operate. The City will help local businesses and the tourism industry in adapting to climate change impacts to ensure the continuity of their operations, improve their ability to reduce and manage risk, and build and maintain a positive reputation in the community.

​Goal 5: Protect Biodiversity and Enhance Ecosystem Functions

Climate change directly affects ecosystems by creating favorable climatic conditions for the spread of invasive species, causing environmental damage due to extreme weather events, while simultaneously interacting with other human stressors. The City will take steps to further protect and enhance ecosystems’ functions and services as increases in rainfall intensity leads to overburdened stormwater ponds, or an increased frequency of winter events requiring the use of de-icing products.

​Goal 6: Minimize Disruption to Corporate Services

Frequent occurrences of extreme weather could hinders people’s routines and day-to-day activities, while posing safety risks to drivers or people using outdoor recreational spaces. Recognizing the ability of the City to efficiently deliver services to residents will be under pressure due to changing climatic conditions, the City will take measures to ensure that the needs of the community are met and disruption to core services are minimized.

​Goal 7: Build Community Resilience

Climate change poses a variety of risks to the community, ranging from flooding, to extreme heat and cold, to habitat loss, and property damage. To ensure that the City of Barrie is able to withstand and recover from the impacts of climate change, it is important to build and maintain community resilience .

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between adaptation and mitigation?

Climate Change Adaptation refers to any action that seeks to reduce vulnerability to the local climate change impacts. Mitigation refers to measures that aim to address the root causes of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The City has undertaken several initiatives to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions. While mitigation efforts aim to reduce the long-term effects of global warming, adaptation measures are needed to minimize impacts of a changing climate. Adaptation is not meant to replace or undermine mitigation efforts. It’s a proactive way to protect from expected impacts and avoid high costs of remediating damages.

What are the impacts of climate change on our water resources?

Climate change is expected to lead to warmer winters and longer summers. Average annual precipitation is expected to rise, with an increase in precipitation falling in the winter, spring, and fall and a decrease falling in the summer. It is expected that water resources will be put under stress both from a quantity and quality perspective, especially with the expected increase of temperatures and prolonged drought periods. Lower stream baseflows and soil moisture will have an impact on food security.

What can we do to help mitigate the effects of Climate Change?

Everyone can play a part in reducing the need for fossil fuels and participate in creating a cleaner, more green and sustainable future. Encouraging greener ways to commute, supporting local businesses and farmers, upcycling materials and using energy efficient items are just a handful of ways that we can help to reduce climate change.

What are Greenhouse Gases?

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) can be both naturally occurring and created by humans. There are six primary GHGs found in the atmosphere: Water Vapour (H20), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), Ozone (O3) and Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). GHGs are essential in the atmosphere because they allow the heat from the Sun to pass through and warm the Earth but do not let the heat pass back through into space. This is what has allowed the Earth to sustain life. The issue surrounding Climate Change and GHGs, is that because of human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and intense agriculture, the natural balance has been affected, resulting in a higher concentration of GHGs now found in the atmosphere.

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