Municipalities and Utilities Partnering for Community Resilience
Municipalities across Canada are facing extreme climate change impacts, such as high winds, ice storms, floods, droughts, and forest fires. At the same time, almost 90% of Canadian energy utilities have been significantly impacted by a weather event in the last decade. Both municipal systems and energy distribution systems are essential, interconnected, and must work together to maintain the resilience of a community.
Despite concerns that climate change and weather-related events threaten the reliability and resilience of Canadian energy distribution services, there remains limited tools and assessment processes to help local governments and utilities collaboratively and effectively plan to reduce risks and costs to residents and businesses.
QUEST’s Municipalities and Utilities Partnering for Community Resilience initiative aimed to foster collaboration between municipalities, energy utilities, and other key community stakeholders to undertake a climate risk and vulnerability assessment using several tools, and to work together to select climate adaptation measures, including: adopting policies and practices, augmenting risk-based decision-making, improving infrastructure, land-use planning, asset planning, energy planning and reliability measures, increasing public education, communication, coordination, and emergency preparedness and response during prolonged power outages.
Community Resilience Reports
Lessons Learned from Twelve Canadian Communities
This report presents key lessons learned from the twelve municipalities and their energy utilities that participated in this initiative including:
- Municipalities’ most common strengths and vulnerabilities to specific climate hazards;
- Key recommendations to advance climate adaptation, strengthen the resilience of energy systems, and augment emergency preparedness plans;
- Key challenges to the development and implementation of climate adaptation measures.
Community Resilience Mini-guide
Building on lessons learned, this mini-guide provides:
- Tips and resources communities interested in becoming more resilient, developing, implementing or reviewing their climate adaptation, their climate planning strategy and their emergency responses, with a specific lens on energy infrastructure.
- Tips to develop an effective education communications plan with some examples of key messages by hazard type
- Possible funding strategies to secure financial resources for the development and implementation of the Climate Adaptation Plan.
Community Resilience Projects Phases
Phase 1: Climate risk and vulnerability assessment
QUEST has led the first workshop with every municipality by:
- Presenting emergency management, insurance sector, and energy utilities;
- Facilitating three table-top discussions and exercises (10 Essentials Exercise, Resilience Mapping Exercise, and Action Planning Exercise);
- Engaging municipal staff, energy utilities, emergency management, provincial staff, insurance providers and other local stakeholders.
That enabled the municipalities to identify hazards, risks, and vulnerabilities while simultaneously considering opportunities to both reduce risks and enhance community environmental performance. Each participating community received its Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Report.
Phase 2: Identification of place-specific recommendations to address identified weaknesses
In a second workshop, QUEST presented a set of recommendations tailored to the context and needs of each community. Through a table-top exercise, participants selected among the recommendations, discussed what was needed, assigned timeline, priority, cost, lead department, etc. using a spreadsheet. That enabled participants to select recommendations based on the type of hazards identified in their community, prioritize them, and assign a cost, a timeline, and a department lead. Each participating community received its Resilience Recommendation Report at the end of 2019.
Phase 3: Networking and knowledge exchange
Monthly call meetings have been scheduled with the project team to share their initiatives and questions with the group. Peer-learning sessions were completed throughout three webinars to introduce the project, present key lessons from the first workshop, and the lessons learned presented in this report.
Learn more about the methodology on the Building Community Resilience report.
QUEST held a webinar to present its report on Building Community Resilience: Key Lessons from Twelve Canadian Communities, on Feb. 20th, 2020.
Check out the video below or download the webinar presentation in PDF.
About the Presenters:
Manager, Policy & Research
Passionate about low-carbon and resilient energy systems, Aïda is QUEST’s as a Senior Lead, Project and Service Advisory. Based in Calgary, Alberta, she manages and delivers projects advancing Smart Energy Communities in Canada. With over seven years of research and consulting experience, Aïda brings a sound interdisciplinary expertise in energy systems, urban governance, and climate and energy policies. Aïda has experience in facilitation and community engagement techniques that bring together stakeholders from various backgrounds to develop collaborative solutions and initiatives on urban sustainability. She has worked with non-profits, academic institutions, and institutional agencies including Energy Efficiency Alberta. Bilingual in French and English, Aïda holds a Master Degree of Public Policies from Sciences-Po Paris (France) and a PhD degree from the University of Calgary. Her research analysed the construction of energy and climate policies developed by the three levels of government and their impact on the diffusion of distributed generation, and more specifically on district energy systems.
Senior Lead, Projects & Advisory Services
Since 1998, Eddie Oldfield coordinated initiatives focused on local sustainability, GHG emissions reduction, clean energy and efficiency, transportation/fleets, climate adaptation and resilience planning. Eddie Chairs the QUEST NB-PEI Caucus, working to advance Smart Energy Communities, and is Senior Lead, Projects and Advisory Services, QUEST. In this role, he helps deliver regional and national projects and supports FCM Partners for Climate Protection members in Atlantic Canada. Eddie also co-chairs the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)’s Energy and Utilities working group and is a Charter member of the OGC Smart Cities working group. He led development of innovative web-based map services & distributed spatial data infrastructure, to support decision making including for a cross-border pandemic exercise in 2007. He is a board member of the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network, and participated in the Resilient Communities Working Group of the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. Eddie holds a BA (2008), with Interdisciplinary Honours (Sociology, Political Science, Environment, Science & Technology) from St. Thomas University, and owns and operates Spatial Quest based in Fredericton NB.
The following municipalities participated in the Municipalities and Utilities Partnering for Community Resilience Initiative:
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown is the thriving Capital City of Prince Edward Island, located on the south shore. It has a population of approximately 36,000 people, and is known as the “Birthplace of Confederation” after the historic 1864 Charlottetown Conference that led to Confederation. As with many coastal cities, Charlottetown has infrastructure on the waterfront that is susceptible to flooding and the municipality continues to deal with the effects of the changing climate.
Dauphin is a small City nestled between the Riding Mountain National Park and Duck Mountain Provincial Park. The location presents various opportunities to engage with nature be it winter or summer. The community is host to several major festivals which include Dauphin’s Countryfest and Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival. While small in size Dauphin has big ambitions working towards becoming Manitoba’s most sustainable City. Our City is a regional hub making it an ideal location for people looking to strike a balance between work and play.
Summerside, Prince Edward Island
Summerside, located in the beautiful province of Prince Edward Island has a compact urban core cradled by an idyllic, rural landscape and shores washed by a calm and warm sea. It offers a unique combination of convenience and serenity. The community provides its nearly 15,000 residents and visitors quaint shopping districts, live theatre, beautiful beaches, as well as a variety of restaurants, a diversified business community and vast investment and employment potential. Summerside is well-known by potential investors, site selectors and business leaders. For all of them it is “the city to watch” for growth and excellence in infrastructure.
Stratford, Prince Edward Island
The Town of Stratford is a growing community of over 10,000 residents and is situated on a peninsula just south of Charlottetown, the provincial capital. Stratford is surrounded by magnificent water views bounded by Fullerton’s Marsh, the Hillsborough River, Charlottetown Harbour and the Hillsborough Bay. The Trans-Canada Highway connects the eastern end of the province to Charlottetown, bisecting the Town from east to west with the Hillsborough Bridge connecting Stratford to Charlottetown. The landscape of the Stratford area varies greatly with elevations rising to 88.7 meters along the southern coast of Stratford; with areas of high slope adjacent to several tributaries, rolling hills, flatlands, a significant number of watercourses and kilometers of coastline. The Town of Stratford is known as a leader for its proactive stance on climate change and sustainability, having incorporated land use policies regarding sustainable development since 2012.
Woodstock, New Brunswick
The Town of Woodstock is located 100 km’s west of the Capital City, Fredericton; 300 km west of Nova Scotia Border; 200 km east from the Quebec Border and 25 km’s from State of Maine Border. Settled on the banks of the Meduxnekeag and St. John Rivers at the intersection of the Trans Canada Highway at Exits 185 and 188, and I-95 at Exit 12. Woodstock was the first incorporated town in New Brunswick on May 1, 1856. Woodstock boasts some of the finest 19th Century Victorian heritage homes, churches and civic buildings. We are a vibrant, prosperous community -the service centre of the Upper St. John River Valley. As well, the retail and commercial hub of the agricultural, forestry and transportation sectors in the regional economy.
Rural Municipality of Alexander, Manitoba
Only 113 km northeast of Winnipeg, lies the R.M. of Alexander. Stretching from the eastern shores of Lake Winnipeg east into the Whiteshell and north into the Canadian Shield, this 1,521 sq. km. region is serviced by six modern highways. Its year-round population of 3,000 explodes to over 20,000 in the summer. It offers parkland, beaches, forest, agriculture, industry and the amenities of both urban and rural settings, and is the hydro power center of Manitoba. Alexander is in the heart of Manitoba’s cottage country with many Winnipeggers flocking to the area for the summer months to escape the city and enjoy the natural beauty of the region. The community understands the impact that natural weather phenomena can have and very much appreciates the opportunity to strengthen its ability to adapt to climate change.
Nestled along the Sheep River valley in the heart of the Alberta Foothills, the Town of Okotoks is a young, vibrant and friendly community of nearly 30,000 residents. Okotoks is flanked by the front range of the Rocky Mountains to the west, and is situated only 18 kilometres south of Calgary’s city limits. Okotoks is well known for its environmental efforts and is now pursuing a plan of managed sustainable growth that builds upon this reputation.
Saint John, New Brunswick
Saint John, New Brunswick – Canada’s Original City – was incorporated 1785 and has grown into a historically-rich and culturally diverse city. The city is home to an “uptown” core, where historic buildings dot the banks of the St. John River and the Saint John Harbour – the Bay of Fundy is our front door. A city of neighbourhoods, our citizens enjoy a unique quality of life with an abundance of housing options, a thriving arts and cultural community and easy access to a variety of exceptional recreational facilities and green spaces.
Tracadie, New Brunswick
Situated in the heart of the Acadian Peninsula, Tracadie is surrounded by two rivers neighboring the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. This makes it an ideal spot for water activities, of course, but you will also find here nature trails both for walking and cycling. The beach is only a few minutes away, at the Val-Comeau Provincial Park.
Campbellton, New Brunswick
Campbellton is a great place to live and we are working to maintain and improve this while protecting the region’s special heritage. We are building the platform for a city that will continue to be recognized for its quality of life, educational opportunities and social and cultural diversity.
The Town of Cochrane is a vibrant, family-friendly community just 20 minutes west of Calgary, nestled in a legendary valley steeped in Native and pioneer lore, with a breathtaking view of the majestic Rocky Mountains. Our world-famous ranching history is still reflected in the town’s architecture and our friendly people; Cochrane remains committed to preserving its small-town feel, even though we are one of the fastest growing communities in Alberta.
Located along the banks of the scenic North Saskatchewan River and about 20 km southwest of Edmonton, the Town of Devon is a community that prides itself in providing a high quality of life for its residents. With beautiful natural areas and many recreational opportunities, the Town of Devon’s 6,700 residents are proud to call Devon home. Devon is an environmentally conscious and ambitious community that has set a long-term goal of becoming a net zero-energy municipality. The Town has already completed a number of contributing initiatives with more initiatives in progress, or planned for the near future, as Devon strives to reach this goal through strategic planning and innovation.
This project is made possible by support from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (MCIP) and Natural Resources Canada.
QUEST conducts and packages cutting edge applied research to empower practitioners and decision makers with the tools they need to advance Smart Energy Communities. Find out more about our projects:
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