Welcome to Adapt-action, a tool to help Alberta municipalities adapt to a changing climate regime by taking action to become more resilient communities.
Adapt-action guides you through a series of climate change issue that might be affecting you. Each one is outlined from the environmental changes you will see, to the implications for your community, through to the strategies you can employ to adapt and become more climate resilient. As you navigate through each issue narrative, you will be able to view and collect information about:
The Adapt-action tool was created by the Miistakis Institute as part of the Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation project, which was led by the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, and conducted in partnership with the University of Alberta and the University of Saskatchewan.
Who is this tool for?
Climate change affects everyone in your community. Everyone is in a unique position to do something to adapt to it, but everyone needs information tailored to their outlook. The Adapt-action tool zeros in on municipalities, describing issues from their perspective, and framing strategies in terms of their mandates and capabilities. However, anyone in the community can benefit from this information because municipal staff and councils cannot create climate-resilient communities on their own.
And all approaches to climate change adaptation need to be considered. However, the Adapt-action tool emphasizes proactive, ecosystem-based approaches. Though increasing in use around the world, these tactics are often underutilized, despite being cost effective, representing robust risk management, and providing numerous co-benefits. The Adapt-action tool will assist municipalities and community members seeking these kinds of approaches.
How Did This Tool Come About?
The Adapt-action online tool was the result of a three-year research project into how local communities could better adapt to a changing climate regime.
The overarching project - the Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation project - was created by the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute to develop essential knowledge and tools to support the management of Alberta's biodiversity in a changing climate, and was funded by the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC).
The Miistakis Institute was asked to lead the Resilience-based Adaptation for Local Communities sub-project, with a goal of supporting Alberta communities to better understand climate-related risks and adaptations in the context of ecosystem services and biodiversity.
The ultimate result was the creation of the Adapt-action tool. It was developed with the support of numerous municipalities, individuals, and agencies who vetted concepts, wrote content, provided data, tested usability, and gave critical feedback on both the background research and the Adapt-action tool.
For those interested, all of the background research reports are available on the Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation website.
As you work through the Adapt-action tool, it is important to note that, though most of the information is applicable to any Alberta municipality, the focus to date has been on communities in Alberta's grasslands. Future updates will expand the focus to encompass other natural regions.
Extensive testing has led us to include the modules you see above. However, other modules were also identified as important, and future updates will include additional adaptation issue modules.
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Did we miss something?
The answer is - 'Of course, we did!' So please help us improve this tool!
Municipalities in Alberta, around the country, and around the world are constantly undertaking innovative approaches to building climate resiliency. Let us know if you think something was missed that climate-resilient municipalities need to know about.
That might be a strategy, a resource, a research update. We would also like to build a 'Case Study Library'. Let us know if you can recommend a case study we could include. Maybe it's something you are doing right now. Let us know.
Email your suggestions to us at: email@example.com
A printable, linked resource to help you track your progress on implementing the climate resilience strategies.
All of the potential strategies included throughout the Adapt-action tool are gathered here, in the Strategy checklist. This checklist performs two functions:
First, it is a quick-access way to link to strategies you have seen, and want to view again without going through the issue narratives. Each strategy title below is linked to the full write-up.
Second, the checkboxes allow you to see at a glance your community's progress towards implementing climate resilience strategies. Each strategy can be checked as:
Help: Navigating the Adapt-action Site
The Adapt-action online tool is constructed to lead a user through the practice of building local climate resiliency one 'climate resiliency issue' at a time. The tool lays out each issue (e.g., Adapting to Water Scarcity, or Adapting to Floods) in three dimensions:
Once you choose a climate resilience issue, you can navigate back and forth between the Environmental Changes / Effects, Implications, and Strategies, digging deeper within each to the degree you wish. The deeper you dig, the more information, resources, and references you can unearth.
As well as navigating by the issue narratives, there are several 'back door' ways you can access content within the Adapt-action tool.
We call each of the climate resilience issues described in the Adapt-action tool a 'narrative' because it tells an entire story, from the causal environmental changes and effects, to the implications for the local community, through to the strategies that can be employed to adapt.
For your portable reference, this section includes full reports for each issue narrative. These include all the environmental change/effect information, all the implications, and all the strategies related to one issue narrative. They are downloadable PDF documents, with easy-to-navigate contents, in an easy-to-search format.
Climate resiliency issue reports:
Why are we talking about climate change adaptation?
The vast majority of scientists believe humans are interfering with the climate system, which poses risks to both human and natural systems.
Here are some of the risks identified in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014) report:
Although these risks are drawn from a global assessment, many of these risks are relevant to Alberta.
Communities have adapted to impacts of weather and climate variability for generations through implementation of a range of practices including irrigation, crop diversification, disaster management and water management, but climate change poses a bigger challenge, one outside our range of past experiences.
To manage for expected risks, climate change adaptation strategies are an important consideration for regional and local governments. "Adaptation infers to the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects. In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects" (IPCC 2014). Governments at all levels world-wide are integrating climate change considerations into planning and policy developments.
More recently, the language of 'climate change adaptation' has been evolving into 'climate resilience.' It sounds like a new batch of jargon, but it is a critical difference. Resilience is the ability of something bounce back or recover quickly; the use of this terms moves the adaptation conversation much more into the realm of 'proactively' creating that ability, rather than 'reactively' adjust to new conditions.
How do we deal with scientific uncertainty?
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has determined the climate is changing, the average global temperature is warming and that humans have caused the warming by increasing CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through fossil fuel emissions and land use changes. The IPCC indicates there is unequivocal agreement that humans are the cause of climate change, but there is uncertainty around the severity of future impacts. This is primarily due to the complexity of trying to accurately model the climate, but also because it is largely depends on how we as a species respond to global emission reduction targets. What we do know is it is not too late to avoid the worst; lower emissions will mean reduced climate change and less severe impacts.
To address the uncertainty of future emissions climate scientists have developed emissions scenarios, plausible representations of future releases of greenhouse gases in to the atmosphere. Within the Adapt-action tool we present climate predictions based on two common emission scenarios:
If change is coming, but we are uncertain of the severity, how does a local community effectively plan to adapt to these changes? It is important to understand that addressing climate change wisely will yield many benefits to the economy and the quality of life, that acting sooner would be less disruptive than acting later, and that local communities can adapt and in many cases are already implementing strategies that promote climate resilience.
What is an ecosystem-based approach to climate change adaptation?
There are different ways to approach adaptation, but one approach that is garnering increasing attention is ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA). EbA sees adaptation as a function of resilience. Hence, a key premise of EbA is to protect the ecosystem that provides life supporting systems (ecosystem services) humans need to survive.
EbA is built on the notion that a healthy functioning ecosystem is more resilient and therefore better able to adapt to ecosystem stress, such as climate change. Restoring or maintaining ecosystem resilience therefore reduces the vulnerability of communities to climate change. Ecosystems provide services that play a role in adaptation to climate change, such as risk reduction of natural disasters (floods, drought), food security, sustainable water management and livelihood diversification.
The Convention on Biological Diversity defines EbA as: "Sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems, as part of an overall adaptation strategy that takes into account the multiple social, economic and cultural co-benefits for local communities." (Convention on Biological Diversity, 2010, Decision X/33)
One of the main benefits of EbA is its potential to achieve multiple benefits. For example, an EbA strategy to sustainably manage wetlands and floodplains has multiple benefits, such as the maintenance of water flow and water quality, flood control, and water storage, all of which contribute to the reduced risks of drought. However, besides reducing vulnerability to natural disaster, other benefits include improved recreational opportunities (fishing), regulation of water, and enhanced carbon storage. Given the multiple benefits of EbA strategies, they are often termed 'no-regret' strategies. That is, given the uncertainty around the frequency and extent of environmental impacts expected from climate change, EbA actions will still provide benefit to communities even if climate change impacts are less severe than predicted.
Strategies that support multiple adaptation issues
One of the features of Ecosystem-based Adaptation that makes it cost effective, and a sound risk management approach, is that one strategy may in fact address several identified climate change implications of concern. For example, an initiative created to deal with increasing water scarcity, may also help address increased flooding. Likewise, an EbA project to protect aquatic habitat may also help protect human health.
For this reason, it is important to understand - and prioritize - those strategies which address multiple climate change implications. The following list is derived from analyzing the connections between 'implications' and 'strategies', identifying those strategies which appear most frequently as methods to address multiple implications.
The following is a list, in order, of the strategies that occurred most often in the 'Implications' detail write-ups:
A primer for Canadian municipalities on what climate change adaptation is in the municipal context, and how to approach adaptation planning, based on several case studies.
Primarily a tool for cities around the Great Lakes to explore climate 'peers' in the region, but also contains an extensive (500+) library of municipal climate change adaptation strategies (pretend you are a Great Lakes area city and navigate through the tool).
A practical and easily-navigated resource for climate adaptation at all levels. Includes case studies, tools, and a virtual library, all searchable.
An interactive online community dedicated to advancing knowledge and action in the area of climate change adaptation. The CCACoP is used by researchers, experts, policy-makers and practitioners from across Canada to share knowledge, and communicate with others working in the field of climate change adaptation. Numerous presentations and resources focus on adaptation at the municipal level.
A solid resource on the effects of climate change at a national level for water resources, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, coastal zones, transportation and human health and well-being.
A broad program from the Columbia Basin Trust aimed at informing and supporting local communities to become more climate resilient. The web site contains several awareness and application resources, and information on the participating communities. Includes the Adaptation Resource Kit which includes extensive information, case descriptions, and implementation resources usable by Alberta municipalities.
NRCan's climate change adaptation landing page, which redirects to several applicable resources, including the newly-updated synthesis report, "Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation"
NRCan has developed several climate change adaptation resources, including several targeted at municipalities, all available from this web site.
Web site of the All One Sky Foundation's Resilient Communities Project which describes their Alberta-based process for helping municipalities become climate resilient; includes cases, links to resources, and contact information for their adaptation experts.
A BC-based tool from the Fraser Basin Council that includes numerous adaptation planning resources applicable at the municipal, including several community profiles.
An introductory resource for municipalities in Canada beginning the process of becoming climate resilient, put in the context of municipal decision making, and with a number of Canadian case examples.
ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) Canada has an online adaptation action planning process which many municipalities in Canada (and Alberta) have used. It guides the user through the stages of initiating, researching, planning, implementing, and monitoring a climate change adaptation action plan.
A specific process created to assist municipalities in planning for climate change, but with many practical examples that are applicable to municipalities whether they use the prescribed process or not.
A report on the City of Calgary’s efforts to foster wise water use, including its case for conservation, water efficiency measures, and implementation plan.
Excellent document/tool that guides a community through the various aspect of climate resiliency planning from using modeling, structuring decision making, and implications for various municipal departments and services.
A project of Natural Resources Canada and the Canadian Institute of Planners specifically aimed at municipalities with limited in-house capacity.
A simple summary guide created by Manitoba Local Government to seed ideas for municipalities in how they could pursue climate change adaptation efforts.
A workbook-based document to guide participant communities through the ICLEI 5-step process for climate change adaptation planning.
A review of practical regulatory approaches to groundwater protection at the state and local level.
A short practical guide for incorporating adaptation considerations into the municipal land-use planning process, including a practical list of potential impacts, and a method for evaluating how ‘climate-proof’ a plan is.
A guide from the well-respected UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) to help local communities identify what climate change adaptation might be available to them, and how to assess their value to the community versus other options .
A terrific summary of the climate-related vulnerabilities and impacts for a rural county in the inter-mountain west, including social, economic, and resource implications.
Though not a climate resiliency document, the practical strategies outlined in this Canada West Foundation report would all support building climate resilience at the municipal level.
A straightforward methodology for conducting a local community-based fiscal assessment of the costs of adaptation.
The website of the WildSmart program in Canmore, Alberta, which is based on the successful FireSmart programs, and provides an inspirational model for a potential Climate Smart organization.
The legislation that enables several conservation and stewardship tools, including ‘conservation easements’ (Sec. 28) and Transfer of Development Credits (Sec. 48).
The Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties’ (AAMDC) toolkit and guide to creating a municipal sustainability plan.
The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association’s (AUMA) template for and guide to creating a municipal sustainability plan.
The Integrated Watershed Management Plan created by the Bow River Basin Council.
The State of the Watershed report created by the Bow River Basin Council.
An online guide to understanding and applying conservation easements in Alberta, including specific direction for municipalities.
The Milk River Watershed Council’s Integrated Watershed Management Plan.
The Milk River Watershed Council’s State of the Watershed report.
The guiding legislation of Alberta’s local governments, which contains the Environmental Reserve set back guidelines (Sec. 664).
The Natural Step has created a Community Sustainability Planning Guide (note: sign up is required to be able to download it).
The Oldman Watershed Council’s State of the Watershed report.
The Oldman Watershed Council’s Integrated Watershed Management Plan.
A comprehensive but practical report by ACT (the Adaptation to Climate Change Team at Simon Fraser University) looking at local government considerations for financing adaptation including making the economic case for adaptation, conventional and innovative funding and financing, P3s, incentives, and insurance.
Rocky View County’s Riparian Land Conservation and Management Policy was created to conserve and manage riparian lands for biodiversity, water quality and quantity, erosion and flood control, and recreational, education, and economic opportunities.
An analysis of the needs and policy options for conserving headwaters, with a recommended ‘blueprint’ for source water protection.
A plan by Edmonton’s drinking water utility compiling information on the North Saskatchewan River watershed, and using it to identify hazards, assess risks to source waters and make recommendations on how to manage these risks.
The South East Alberta Watershed Alliance’s (SEAWA) Integrated Watershed Management Plan.
The South East Alberta Watershed Alliance’s (SEAWA) State of the Watershed report.
A comprehensive web guide for municipalities that both explains the concept and provides application guidance for the Transfer of Development Credits, a mechanism to incent conservation and appropriate development.
Easy-to-operate, interactive map that allows users to see temperature, precipitation, soil, drought, and fire data at a provincial level, both current and historical.
The River Flow Quantity Index indicator illustrates the difference between a natural flow regime for the river and the actual flows that were recorded during the year. Flow regimes are examined on a two-season basis: summer (open water considered as one season) and late fall to early spring (the remaining seven months).
Current data on precipitation, snow course, runoff forecasts, and reservoir storage summaries provided at a provincial level.
A Government of Alberta site that allows users to produce water quality data reports for various monitoring locations around Alberta.
Map an data resources related to water from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, and Agriculture and AgriFood Canada.
Database of approximately 500,000 records about individual water well drilling reports, chemical analysis reports, springs, flowing shot holes, test holes, and pump tests; uses an easy-to-use map interface.
Maps and data, current and forecast, for drought and wildfire.
A comprehensive data atlas of the major lakes and reservoirs of Alberta, providing information on several characteristics of water quality.
A brief but comprehensive description of what the various kinds of droughts are, as well as a history of droughts in Alberta in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
An online scenario-building tool that allows users to download data or generate graphs of various climate change parameters (historical, current and projected), based on user-selected criteria, for various weather stations around Canada
The website of the Canadian Wetland Inventory partnership, established in 2002 to provide an accessible, national wetland inventory, which includes an interactive wetland inventory status map to show where a CWI is in progress or complete.
Provides data and a download tool that gives users access to climate data that can be used to estimate more than 50 monthly, seasonal, and annual variables for any point location in Alberta.
PDF of a slide show by Dr. Mel Reasoner delivered at AOSF's municipal climate resilience workshop in southern Alberta showing climate change projections in science-based but clear visual terms.
Online tool that helps municipalities explore plausible future rainfall scenarios under a changing climate regime.
A comprehensive consideration of the vulnerabilities, risks, opportunities, and adaptive capacity in Canada, divided by major region (the Prairies section covers most of Alberta).
Health Canada’s guidelines for recreational water quality, including management practices, public awareness, and pathogenic concerns.
A multi-government research collaborative based at the University of Regina pursuing climate change impacts and adaptation research in the prairies. Activities and available resources include climate scenario modeling, vulnerability of grasslands research, and an academic research library. Their Climate Change and Water in the South Saskatchewan River Basin project is assessing current and future sensitivity of regional socio-economic systems to changes in water supply in the Basin (SSRB).
Web site of BC-based climate research institute, featuring numerous data and analysis tools. Includes the Plan2Adapt tool which creates summary outputs of various climate projection scenarios, available for a number of regional breakdowns, providing broadly-applicable descriptions of anticipated climate change impacts.
A tri-provincial collaborative of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba government agencies seeking to inform better climate-resilient decision making. Most information is at a regional scale versus local community scale, but still several valuable context-setting resources.
Web site of the slow-moving province-wide effort to map groundwater resources to support land use decision making.
Agricultural Land Resource Atlas' (Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development) soil erosion risk map and methodology.
A practical, but technical guide to incorporating climate change considerations into watershed monitoring and assessment.
A technical, but thorough consideration of the impacts of climate change on the prairies, particularly with reference to grassland production, drought, biodiversity, rangelands and croplands.
A relatively high-level description of how Ecosystem-based Adaptation can be integrated into applied projects and the policy context within which they sit, including several practical guidelines and principles.
A more academic consideration of Ecosystem-based Adaptation, but with a clear intent to inform the transition from principles to application.
A short readable primer on Ecosystem-based Adaptation, providing a practical description, augmented by several applied examples from developed and developing countries.
A concise description of what Ecosystem-based Adaptation is, showing the connection to ecosystem services and biodiversity in a comprehensive but succinct way.
A short introduction to integrating social considerations into an Ecosystem-based Adaptation approach, including green economy, food security, livelihoods, gender, and land use conflicts.
A data-based and visual report on how Alberta's natural regions are - and will continue to - shifting as a result of climate change, and the implications of that for how we manage biodiversity in the province.
More commonly known as 'Cows and Fish', the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society works to improve management of riparian areas, and does assessments of riparian health, and provides information about riparian management.
Web page of the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute's Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project, mother project to the Resilience-based Adaptation for Local Communities (RALC) project which produce the Adapt-action Tool.
A collection of case studies highlighting municipal best practices in urban biodiversity management and protection, created as a learning tool for local governments.
A BC-focused report that looks at high-level impacts to biodiversity under a changing climate, and their adaptive capacity; because of its structure it is very applicable to Alberta.
The International Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) quite-readable technical paper on how a changing climate - and the things we do in response to it - are likely to affect biodiversity.
The results of an assessment of over 200 species representative of Alberta's biodiversity, and their vulnerability to projected changes in climate.
The summary report of a collaborative effort to develop and operationalization an ecosystem services based approach to conserving wetlands within the regulatory approvals process for residential subdivision development in southern Alberta.
As the name implies, a comprehensive summary of effects at a national level (and thus applicable across the continent) of climate change with a sound scientific basis, but accessible framing and language.
A brief fact sheet looking at how municipal climate resilience strategies can dovetail with municipal biodiversity conservation strategies.
LCLEI’s (Local Governments for Sustainability) program aims to empower the local level with what they need to integrate biodiversity management into their sustainability planning, focused on awareness-raising, networking, and resource Development
A surprisingly-readable comprehensive, technical summary of the impacts climate change is expected to have on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and why that matters.
An assessment of 16 invasive plants that may not yet be on the horizon for management in Alberta, but which may become issues for southern Alberta as their ranges move due to climate change.
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development’s (AESRD) Water for Life website that gives direction for wetland restoration and compensation, including information on wetland restoration agency status, for which municipalities are eligible.
An assessment of the vulnerability of Burrowing Owl and Ferruginous Hawks to the sorts of extreme weather events that are expected to increase with the increasing change in climate.
The website of the City of Calgary’s Riparian Strategy, which contains a framework that provides direction for the protection, restoration and management of riparian ecosystems within Calgary's watersheds.
Includes a number of on line tools that can assist municipalities in framing their vulnerability assessments, including a water supply vulnerability assessment and environmental health indicators.
A web site by the Public Health Agency of Canada that provides information on the potential human health impacts of a changing climate regime, highlighting the differences between regions, the related health risks, and resources for protecting yourself.
A dated, but still valuable primer on the human-health vulnerabilities related to a changing climate regime, how they can be managed, and a list of adaptation measures.
The goal of this toolkit is to assist health care providers, design professionals, policymakers, and others with roles and responsibilities in assuring the continuity of quality health and human care before, during and after extreme weather events.
A toolkit aimed at supporting a local assessment of the health-related infrastructure on which a community relies to determine its vulnerability due to climate change and the potential adaptation approaches that may be taken.
A summary of the human health issues associated with climate change, developed with the belief that creating a greater appreciation of the human health dimensions of climate change is necessary for both the development of effective policy and the mobilization of public engagement.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has convened regional dialogues aimed at raising awareness and local adaptive capacity for the health risks associated with climate change.
Web site of a multi-partner project in Belgium, France ,Germany, United Kingdom and The Netherlands that works to increase the capacity of their rivers for storing and conveying water.
The Alberta Urban Forest ReLeaf program, in partnership with TELUS, provides funding to homeowners, private landowners and municipalities to replace trees on private or municipal land that have been severely damaged by the 2013 flooding 2014 snow storm.
A report from the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction based on lessons learned from the 2013 floods in southern Alberta.
Web site of the Calgary River Flood Mitigation Program, including links to their flood preparation site for residents, and to the expert panel’s report on the 2013 flood.
As part of their effort to learn from the 2013 floods, the City of Calgary convened an arms-length body of experts to bring current knowledge into the flood mitigation issues and responses discussions. The report presents the Panel’s recommendations for making Calgary more resilient and prepared for future events.
The City of Calgary flood mapping site includes flood hazard maps, inundation maps, river valley maps, and new river modeling.
A library of local flood management resources from the Ontario conservation authorities (set up in the 1950s in response to widespread flooding in the province).
The District of Squamish’s (BC) new Integrated Flood Hazard Management Plan (IFHMP) is intended to guide development and land use in Squamish, incorporating the latest flood management guidelines, new engineering modeling tools and techniques, and best planning practices.
The website of Flood Hazard Identification Program (FHIP), which provides Draft Flood Hazard Studies, Flood Hazard Mapping, and Flood Hazard Studies.
The Alberta Water Portal’s flood mitigation methods page includes descriptions of community scale infrastructure, natural, and policy mitigation methods used to address flooding.
An example from the UK with specifics that are not applicable, but contains good direction on what a municipal Flood Risk Management Plan should contain.
An analysis of the flooding in Boulder, Colorado in 2013, drawing lessons learned from a consideration of physical systems, human systems, and legal and cultural norms.
The Lower Mainland Flood Management Strategy focuses on communities along the lower Fraser River and coast, and seeks to identify opportunities to strengthen flood management policies and practices as well as flood protection works across the Lower Mainland of BC.
A program in the Netherlands operating at more than 30 locations which is designed to give the river more natural space to flood, using measures intended to improve the quality of the immediate surroundings.
This AESRD document provides decision makers with information for determining setback widths and designing effective buffers adjacent to water bodies, and contains information on riparian areas, recommended setbacks, conservation measures, relevant legislation, and case samples.
A decision tool for agricultural landowners regarding management of beavers, created by the Cows and Fish organization.
A map-based assessment of surface water quality risk for the agricultural area of Alberta.
Government of Alberta site provides Agricultural Moisture Situation Updates, developed by their drought modelling team and published frequently as appropriate during the growing season and less frequently during winter months.
An interactive web tool maintained by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development that displays Alberta’s weather forecasts; contains over 10000 maps of Alberta weather and climate-related information, and real time station data from over 350 meteorological stations operating in the province of Alberta.
Excellent resource that presents the broad concept of ecosystem services as a vehicle for agricultural producers to address climate change; covers the concepts of monitoring, BMPs, and policy change.
A joint project of the BC Agriculture Council and the Investment Agriculture Foundation intended to increase industry understanding of the implications of climate change, address issues, strengthen networks, and share resources. The Action Plan is its primary deliverable.
An information site on Climate Smart Agriculture prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, describing the concept, providing several downloadable publications, nd profiling several applications around the world.
An information page on Conservation Agriculture prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, describing the concept, providing the supporting rationales, and giving several examples.
Government of Alberta site Includes a number of drought management decision support tools for all seasons, as well as a drought management checklist.
Government of Alberta site created to educate the agricultural industry about the costs and benefits of planning for and managing drought risk. Includes database of references to scientific literature, government documents, web sites, and expertise that describes the technical, environmental and economic aspects of drought.
A summary report of 16 cases of larger, regional scale actions in agriculture aimed at responding to climate change; includes lessons learned.
Government of Alberta site provides information and tools on business management and production issues surrounding managing a farm during dry conditions.
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development’s Explore Local Initiative created this guide to organizing a local food event, including challenges, tips, and sample formats.
The City of Ottawa’s stormwater management plan including a framework for considering stormwater management adaptation, stormwater infrastructure assessments, and sample tools and approaches from case studies.
A collection of papers by the National Academy of Engineering focused specifically on adapting infrastructure to the impacts of climate change; key papers focus on transportation, and risk management.
The web site for the FireSmart program in Alberta, including guides for homeowners, communities and industry, as well as information regarding grants and partnerships; FireSmart uses preventative measures to reduce wildfire threat to Albertans and their communities while balancing the benefits of wildfire on the landscape.
A well-supported, and readable consideration of the economic advantages of using green infrastructure for purposes such as flood management.
As the name says, an experience-based examination of how beavers can provide a cost-effective approach to climate resiliency.
An exploration of beaver as a climate change adaptation tool, looking at how specific ecosystem modifications resulting from beaver presence can address climate change threats.
A stormwater infrastructure appraisal that directly incorporates climate change assumptions into the vulnerability assessment, showing the protocols, infrastructure types, and climate data used.
A thorough but brief overview of the potential impacts to infrastructure in Canada, with practical lists that can inform municipal risk assessments and scenario building.
A comprehensive, and integrated, guide to municipal infrastructure vulnerability analysis in the face of a changing climate;
Guidelines for the development and implementation of comprehensive stormwater management master plans in the lake Simcoe watershed.
A report by University of Calgary researchers on their assessment of the ecological infrastructure of importance in the Calgary region.
Web site that deals with transportation-related aspects of climate change, with several specific examples of adaptation activities that been undertake in the US.
Integrated with Plan It Calgary, this research developed principles and strategies for maximizing environmental benefits in Calgary’s mobility corridors, focusing on facets that have typically harmful impacts, and proposing green infrastructure strategies that – among other things – can promote climate resiliency.
Website of the FCM’s (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) workshop on risk assessment for municipal infrastructure, including all of the presentations on protocols and case studies.
An assessment by the Town of Stratford, PEI, of their stormwater infrastructure, and plan to manage for it in the face of climate change.
An online database of innovative and low impact development stormwater management practices in Ontario, from an organization established for this purpose.
A short fact sheet on potential stormwater management techniques at different spatial scales, all of which contribute to climate resiliency.
A study that gathered and documented the “lessons learned” by member municipalities (in Metro Vancouver) who had created Integrated Stormwater Management Plans.
The website of a citizen science project examining the reintroduction of beavers as a watershed stewardship tool at the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area (ASCCA) in southern Alberta.
Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador created this simple workbook for doing a municipal infrastructure assessment; though the issues in coastal Newfoundland are different, the structure of the workbook makes an excellent template for any community.
A portal of infrastructure vulnerability information, including links to case studies and consultant contacts.
A fact sheet from the Vermont government that provides several practical examples of how municipalities can promote the reduction of impervious surfaces.
A web site of the Capital Region District in British Columbia that outlines the challenges with impervious surfaces, and several practical techniques usable at the planning and individual levels.
A series of simple design principles that can be applied in the built environment to ensure that buildings and structures are more resilient to the variety and intensity of negative impacts resulting from a change climate.
Portfolio of Calgary-based landscape architecture firm Riparia, including southern Alberta examples of stream restoration, sustainable urban drainage, an wetland design
A readable web-based primer on how beavers can be deployed to build climate resiliency, using the example of initiatives in Washington State, USA.
A description of the novel planning technique used in Boston to assure that construction projects do not cause reductions in groundwater, and also to recharge groundwater with storm-water.
An excellent example of an ecosystem-based adaptation approach to climate resiliency, from assessment to action, including companion reports that are summarized for decision makers.
A description of the California’s water recharge area protection efforts, including keeping groundwater recharge areas from being paved over or otherwise developed and guarding the recharge areas so they do not become contaminated.
The City of Leduc’s assessment of their most pressing weather-related issues, and their plan to become more resilient to those threats.
A case study of the City of Prince George’s climate resiliency efforts, including their climate change projections, impacts, strategies and potential adaptation actions.
Part One of the Plan contains overall goals, anticipated climate change impacts, and broad groupings/themes of response actions; Part Two is currently being developed and will provide detailed actions under each major theme.
The City of Windsor’s climate change adaptation plan focuses on identified risks related to Increased operating/maintenance demands, chance of flooding, severe storm response, and development policies which were not climate-change-sensitive.
A concise, high-quality video from the Methow Beaver Project in Washington, USA showcasing the role of beavers in improving water storage in headwater creeks in the face of a changing climate regime.
Web site for an educational multimedia project featuring high-quality video stories of climate change impacts in Wisconsin, USA, from fly fishing to phenology to sugaring to great lakes shipping.
The County of Lethbridge’s Sustainability Plan which includes numerous climate resiliency strategies, only some of which are labeled as such.
The District of Saanich’s 2011 climate change adaptation plan addresses impacts in 10 key sectors, and lists actions that residents, businesses and municipal operations can take.
The web site of the Halifax Regional Municipality’s Cliamte Smart program, including background reports and studies, as well as guides for community action, economic implications, and risk management.
Comprehensive climate action plan of King County, Washington, USA
Lacombe County’s Environmental Management Plan includes many strategies that promote climate resilience, whether under that banner or not.
The website of the Methow Beaver Project, a collaborative initiative working to improve water quantity and quality using ‘nature's wetland engineers’ in Washington State, USA.
Website for the various background reports and action plan documents prepared for Missoula County by Headwaters Economics, the Geos Institute and the Clark Fork Coalition to assist the municipality's efforts to become more climate resilient.
A detailed and practical consideration of wildlife as a climate change vulnerability in a rural municipality.
The full text of the Groundwater Protection Overlay District ordinance from Portage County, Wisconsin, created to protect key groundwater recharge areas by imposing appropriate land use restrictions in these areas.
An excellent and comprehensive vision and plan for a state-level response to climate change with reference to many of the same issues Alberta is facing, including projections, issue assessment/strategies, and decision making considerations.
Climate change adaptation is an inherently local activity, and few decision-making entities will see as much need to adapt to a changing climate over the coming years as a local government. Fortunately, local governments do have a range of opportunities to address climate change adaptation, building sustainable and resilient communities in the process.
A key need is to connect climate-resiliency strategies to existing policies in southern Alberta rural municipalities. This resource provides a high-level sense of how resilience-based climate change adaptation strategies might fit into existing municipal plans and policies. The policies listed here are each described, then assessed in brief qualitative terms with regard to their potential to accommodate CCA strategies at the local government level.
There is no attempt to exhaustively catalogue every policy in the southern Alberta grasslands municipalities. However, examples are given of the municipalities that have used those policies, and conversely, no policy type is listed if an example of its use was not found in the grasslands municipalities reviewed.
This information is excerpted from the report: "Where Resilience Meets Policy: A Review of Southern Alberta Municipal Policies for Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) Strategy Insertion Points" which is available for download here.
This Resource is divided into four categories:
Policies and Plans
The Municipal Development Plan (MDP) is the overarching vision document for land use in an Alberta municipality. Despite its name, it references all aspects of development, conservation, and community well-being associated with land use planning at the municipal level (in other jurisdictions, this same plan is called a Community Plan, a Comprehensive Plan, etc.).
Alberta municipalities with a population of 3500 or more are required to create an MDP, and those with lesser populations are encouraged to do so. They are reviewed and revised on an infrequent basis, with some over a decade old. The revision process is usually extensive, involving significant community engagement.
There is no pre-determined template, though each one generally includes such categories as transportation, economy/commercial, environment/environmental significant areas, residential, etc. Some are more specific about particular industrial or land use activities (forestry, urban fringe, etc.), and all refer to subdivision, servicing, and other municipal responsibilities.
Regardless of the form, there are a series of requirements prescribed under the Municipal Government Act (MGA), namely that the MDP must address:
The MGA allows that the MDP "may" also address:
It is notable that the MGA also dictates that MDPs "must contain policies respecting the protection of agricultural operations."
Since the 2009 enactment of the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, municipalities must now align their plans with the applicable Regional Plan, though there are no directions on what that must entail.
Related to the MDP is the Intermunicipal Development Plan. Two or more municipalities may adopt an such a plan in respect of land where a consensus on use and development is desired. Such a plan typically relates to the fringe area of urban and rural municipalities or to shared natural features such as lakes. (AB Municipal Affairs 2012)
Potential to Support Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
Because the Municipal Development Plan is the highest-level, cross-municipal planning document, virtually every potential climate change adaptation strategy could be referenced and affected by the Municipal Development Plan. MDPs speak in broad, vision-level terms to agricultural viability, emergency response, recreation, planning and development, roads, water services and infrastructure - all areas in need of focus for climate change adaptation.
The greatest challenge with MDPs is their general lack of integration. Visions for the expansion of local economies, promotion of agricultural, and protection of environmental significant areas all sit in adjacent silos with little reference to integration or trade-offs. Having said that, the MDP likely has the greatest potential for integration of higher-level CCA strategies as each 'silo' still takes its direction from the MDP.
The Land Use Bylaw identifies categories of land use, and slots every parcel in the municipality into on of those districts or zones (e.g., R-1 Residential, Light Industrial, Agricultural Conservation). The LUB then identifies the land and building use activities that are or may be permitted in each district, and sets out a permitting process. All municipalities are required under the Municipal Government Act to adopt a Land Use Bylaw.
The permitted and discretionary uses for a district can prescribe at a high level (i.e., across any parcel with that land use zone) several land use factors including building standards, landscaping, access, excavation/filling, and population density. As well, a LUB district can be designated as public land (with specific requirements for municipal acquisition). The LUB also provides for a paradoxically named 'Direct Control District,' which on the surface facilitates the municipal council's ability to dictate control of land and building use and development in the affected zone with, but in practice can be an unplanned free-for-all, with various individual stakeholders lobbying council to create exclusive guidelines outside of a public process.
Potential to Support Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
Similar to the Municipal Development Plan, the Land Use Bylaw has great potential to support climate change adaptation strategies because of the cross-municipal focus. Like MDPs, Land Use Bylaws speak to agricultural viability, emergency response, recreation, planning and development, roads, water services and infrastructure (all areas in need of focus for climate change adaptation), but do so at a level one step closer to on-the-ground implementation.
The additional opportunity that Land Use Bylaws provide beyond Municipal Development Plans is that direction can be made at a land use category level. There is potential to zone districts as "Storm Water Management" areas or "Agricultural Preservation Zones" and then craft permitted and discretionary uses to support those goals. This allows for a characterization of land use, building, and development activities in outcome-oriented terms, leaving room for innovation in the choice of actual activities.
Area Structure Plans (ASPs) and Area Redevelopment Plans (ARPs) are two related statutory plans enabled under the Municipal Government Act. Both are specific to a given sub-region of the municipality that is facing defined development pressures and opportunities, but neither provides the parcel-specific mapping that may occur later in the development approval process (e.g., a subdivision plan).
Municipalities may adopt Area Structure Plans to establish the general land use, transportation, and servicing framework for specific areas undergoing substantial new development, and Area Redevelopment Plans to outline proposals for addressing planning issues when rejuvenating existing developed areas (Alberta Municipal Affairs 2012).
The Municipal Government Act requires ASPs to describe: the sequence of development proposed for the area; the land uses proposed for the area, either generally or with respect to specific parts of the area; the density of population proposed for the area either generally or with respect to specific parts of the area; and the general location of major transportation routes and public utilities. Area Redevelopment Plans are for the purpose of: preserving or improving land and buildings in the area; rehabilitating buildings in the area; removing buildings from the area; constructing or replacing buildings in the area; establishing, improving or relocating roads, public utilities or other services in the area; facilitating any other development in the area. (Municipal Government Act).
Potential to Support Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
Unlike the Municipal Development Plan and the Land Use Bylaw, Area Structure Plans and Area Redevelopment Plans are not cross-municipal, which creates both limitations and expanded opportunities for supporting climate change adaptation strategies.
ASPs and ARPs are created only for certain areas and only when desired by the municipality, meaning they have limitations for promoting cross-municipal strategies. However, they are speak much more specifically to the kinds of activity that will go on in those regions, and therefore have greater applicability to the target issues of planning and development, roads, storm water management, waste management, and water quality.
Most municipalities have at least one Area Structure Plan, but as each one is constructed in a completely different fashion, they do not represent a 'common' opportunity. As well, the MGA states that adoption of an ASP does not commit a municipality to approving any of the projects contained within it (s.637), so it can retain a theoretical state if the municipality so chooses.
There are a variety of plans used by local governments that are not enabled under the Municipal Government Act, and are not statutory plans. However, these plans are formally adopted by council resolution and/or as bylaws. Four examples are described below:
"The purpose of an Area Concept Plan (ACP) is to present a comprehensive planning policy framework and a generalized future land use concept which will be used by the County to:
"The purpose of the Conceptual Scheme is to provide a non-statutory framework, pursuant to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) and the Subdivision & Development Regulations to:
"Outline Plans and Area Concept Plans are non-statutory plans that are used as a guideline for the subsequent redesignation, subdivision and development of an area of land. These plans are conceptual schemes that provide a much greater level of detail than an Area Structure Plan or Development Concept Plan in terms of the actual subdivision design, site specific technical analysis and details how the proposal is in keeping with the overall municipal goals for development." (Mdfoothills.com 2013)
Potential to Support Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
Although these non-statutory conceptual plans have limited ability to direct specific activities and strategies, they - as the name imply - have the ability to shape land use conceptually. Many of the climate change adaptation strategies need to apply at this level, at least to begin with.
Like Municipal Development Plans and Land Use Bylaws, these conceptual plans cover emergency planning, recreation, planning and development, roads, storm water, water management, water quality, and other climate change adaptation-related issues.
However, because they are not required, they tend to be less likely to try and capture all issues, and instead focus on specific place-based issues. This makes them perhaps ideally suited to support climate change adaptation strategy development.
There are a number of types of municipal sustainability plans, many of which have been developed and implemented in Alberta (AAMDC 2013, AUMA 2006, Infrastructure Canada 2005, Lahit 2004).
Of particular importance in the Alberta context is the 2005 New Deal for Cities and Communities (NDCC) between Canada and Alberta, which became the Federal Gas Tax Fund (see below). That program provides financial assistance to municipalities to support the sustainability of capital municipal infrastructure, in order to "maintain or enhance economic, social and cultural opportunities and well being, while protecting and improving the quality of the environment" (AAMDC 2013).
As part of the agreement, municipalities are required to develop an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP), focused on the four dimensions referenced above (environmental, cultural, social and economic), developed through public consultation, and providing direction to their Multi-Year Capital Infrastructure Plan (AAMDC 2013).
Potential to Support Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
This funding-leveraged requirement to create sustainability plans creates a policy-based opportunity to insert climate change adaptation strategies into municipal visioning and planning, as the plans' focus on sustainability is grounded in environmental values but expansive.
Several communities in southern Alberta have created sustainability plans (see for example County of Lethbridge 2009), and the Oldman River Regional Services commission has experience creating such plans.
The challenge is that, as with any "funder-required" plan, commitment may be tepid, and the degree to which it plays a significant role in the municipality's day-to-day thinking/operations will vary.
The "Code of the West" is as soft a policy document as you can find, but may have significant impact for that reason. The colloquial nature and wording resonate with people in southern Alberta rural communities, and may guide actions to a degree well beyond its official authority.
Based on the 1934 Zane Grey novel of the same name, the Code of the West arose as first an unwritten code, and then gradually various entities made efforts to capture it in writing. It has become increasingly adopted in the rural municipal/county policy realm largely because it makes pointed, plain-language statements about the implications of living in a non-urban, agriculturally-based community - something statutory documents are not structured to provide.
'Code of the West' policies have become increasingly popular in rural communities that are seeing an influx of semi-urban residents, and who are seeing an increasing conflict between "new" and "old" residents and ways of life. It is a deceptively simple policy document, (e.g., Section 1.5 of the MD Willow Creek code says, "Animals and their manure can cause objectionable odors. What else can we say?"), that cuts to the pragmatics of rural living.
The MD of Willow Creek, MD of Pincher Creek, and Rocky View County have all adopted Code of the West policies, and Lethbridge County and Vulcan County make passing reference to such codes in their Municipal Development Plans.
Potential to Support Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
Willingness to adopt climate change adaptation strategies in rural communities will not be as the result of reams of climate change data and complex graphs. It will be as the result of plain-spoken, locally-applicable options and directives. The Code of the West policies provide an opportunity to link climate change adaptation strategies to these place-based aphorisms, such as this one from the MD of Pincher Creek Code of the West:
"A flash flood may occur, especially during summer months and turn a dry gully into a river. It is wise to take this possibility into consideration when building. You need to ask if your property is in a flood zone. Development (construction) in a 1:100 year flood plain, as determined by Alberta Environment, is prohibited in the M.D." (MD of Pincher Creek 2012)
Growth Management Strategies are non-statutory, high-level planning documents intended to characterize and direct municipal growth over an extended period into the future. There are only a handful of municipalities in Alberta with these strategies, very few rural communities, mostly "rurban" communities who are experiencing significant growth pressures from adjacent fast-growing municipalities. Goals of these strategies can be to "provide a framework to direct where and how development would be most desirable for the good of the community" (Rocky View County 2010), and "enable us to protect and preserve those aspects of the MD that our residents value, and to capitalize on opportunities for growth and development where it makes the most sense" (MD of Foothills 2013).
Potential to Support Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
Growth Management Strategies are a relatively new player on the municipal policy landscape, and as noted above, tend to occur mostly in areas of significant growth pressure. The feature of GMSs that makes them well suited to supporting climate change adaptation strategies is that they assume growth, and therefore development and more intensive land use, will occur, and they seek to explicitly - and proactively - identify where that will / should occur. For a climate change adaptation approach that assumes strategies will "piggyback" on existing actions and decisions, this type of forward-moving policy may be ideal. For example, a policy to increase wetland retention and creation is perhaps more likely to succeed when created at the same time as a policy that is seeking to understand where future at-flood-risk development may occur, and how it may be mitigated.
Agricultural Service Boards (ASB's) were first established by Alberta Agriculture in 1945 to provide local authority over weed infestation and soil erosion from wind & water. The Agricultural Service Board Act allowed rural jurisdictions to set up these local boards, with the Agricultural Fieldmen hired to carry out the programs. The boards became advisory to the local municipal council and the Minister of Agriculture (Aaaf.ab.ca 2013a).
ASB programs vary considerably across Alberta due (see Aaaf.ab.ca 2013b for a description of ASB programs in the southern region). In general, they include "invasive plant species control programs, soil and water conservation programming, facilitation of Agriculture Canada's Shelterbelt Tree Program, encouragement of Alberta's crop seed cleaning & treating plants including annual certification inspections, pesticide container recycling programs, sustainable livestock management education/awareness, specialized agricultural equipment rentals, agricultural pest programs, coordination of selected provincial agricultural program initiatives" (Aaaf.ab.ca 2013a).
ASBs and the Agricultural Fieldmen continue to focus on weed control, soil & water resource conservation, & pest management, but have broadened to include advocating for local agriculture. Agricultural Fieldmen are also now seen as key contacts for ecological resource sustainability (Aaaf.ab.ca 2013a).
Potential to Support Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
Any climate change adaptation strategy related to agriculture will obviously pass through the hands of the Agricultural Services Board (ASB) and the local Agricultural Fieldman. More importantly, any impacts on the local agricultural community and economy will be keenly apparent to these people. In rural municipalities, there are direct connections between the ASB and the municipal council, always overlap in membership, and some cases where the ASB has been folded with their duties passing directly to council.
However, it is also not an exaggeration to say that any new environmental program is likely to land on the desk of the Agricultural Fieldman. A review of the ASB programs in southern Alberta (Aaaf.ab.ca 2013b) shows conservation programs, ecological monitoring, living with wildlife programs, etc. There is increasing intermixing of agricultural and environmental programming, with the provincial ASB grant to municipalities having been merged with the Alberta Environmental Sustainable Agriculture funding in 2010 (Aaaf.ab.ca 2013a).
The ASB work also has explicit links to the Municipal Development Plan, as the MDP is required by the Municipal Government Act to include provisions for the protection of agricultural operations.
Collectively, this indicates that the Agricultural Services Board and the Agricultural Fieldmen have the potential to accommodate - and even champion - climate change adaptation strategies related to agricultural viability, planning and development, storm water management, water quality/quantity, and biodiversity in general.
The Emergency Management Act requires municipalities to establish certain structures and to maintain certain responsibilities for managing emergencies and disasters. The Act requires municipalities to "at all times, be responsible for the direction and control of the local authority's emergency response ..." Every municipality is required to establish an emergency management agency, and to prepare emergency plans and programs.
There are a variety of emergency services in a municipality. Emergency medical services (ambulance, paramedic) are now provided by the province, but the municipality is still responsible for the 'public safety answering point' (PSAP), which takes the 911 call and directs the emergency service. Municipalities set up their own fire services, through a branch or department of the municipality or through a regional services commission. Municipalities are also responsible for several aspects of fire permitting and management, and pass bylaws with respect to these matters.
There are a number of granting programs that support these services, but the disaster and emergency-related programs (e.g., Municipal Wildlife Assistance Program, Disaster Recovery Programs) tend to provide funding for after-the-fact fighting actions such as fighting fires and flood recovery - not prevention.
Potential to Support Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
Extreme storm events, flooding, and wildfires are identified, above, as significant climate change adaptation issues for municipalities.
In 2013, the Calgary region experienced flooding representing the worst natural disaster in our province's history, with 100,000 people under mandatory evacuation order and early damage estimates of $3-5 billion. This 2013 flood is reported to be more than twice the volume of the hitherto record 2005 flood, which was matched by the 1995 flood. Emergency Services Agencies are realizing that planning for 100-year floods is a thing of the past.
Municipal policies and strategies related to such climate change-influenced occurrences as floods and wildfires, are logical places for the insertion of climate change adaptation strategies. Perhaps the most significant challenge will be finding homes and funding for the prevention-based strategies that focus on resilience.
Although regional planning was wiped out in the mid-90's in Alberta, some regional service provision was maintained. In the transition, some of the old regional planning commissions, which were tasked with creating binding regional plans under the old Planning Act, carried forward and became service providers, continuing to provide planning services to multiple-municipality regions.
Today, two or more municipalities may set up a regional services commission to provide services on a regional basis to member clients. The commissions are established through regulation under Part 15.1 of the Municipal Government Act (Alberta Municipal Affairs 2013).
Regional services commissions have their own distinct legal status with natural person powers, separate from municipalities, meaning they can hire staff, administer their own payrolls, own property in their own name, and raise capital. This structure allows municipalities in Alberta to work collaboratively with other municipalities to deliver services to the their communities (Alberta Municipal Affairs 2013).
Though most regional services commissions focus on water and wastewater, there are a range of a range of municipal services that can be delivered using a regional governance model, including:
Potential to Support Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
Regional services commissions oversee several water and waste water systems in southern Alberta (see Appendix 1: Regional Services Commissions in Southern Alberta), making them the logical operational body to consider for climate change adaptation strategies related to water management, water storage, water quantity, and water quality.
As well, the Oldman Regional Services Commission provides planning services to at least eight of the municipalities in the grasslands region. These services include drafting Municipal Development Plans, Land Use Bylaws, other bylaws, Integrated Sustainability Plans, and additional provide direction and advice on integration with the Regional Planning process.
The Alberta Municipal Infrastructure Program provides financial assistance for "developing capital municipal infrastructure to maintain or enhance economic, social and cultural opportunity and well being, while protecting and improving the quality of our environment upon which people and economies Alberta depend" (Alberta Ministry of Transportation 2005).
Funding can be used for "core capital infrastructure" projects, including municipal roads, bridges, public transit vehicles and facilities, water and wastewater systems and facilities, storm drainage systems and facilities, emergency service vehicles and facilities and infrastructure management system software; this includes design and engineering services, construction and rehabilitation, vehicle purchase, and land acquisition (Alberta Ministry of Transportation 2005).
If core capital infrastructure needs have been addressed, funds may also be used for cultural and recreational facilities, community environmental and energy systems and facilities, solid waste management systems and facilities, municipal buildings and other municipal physical infrastructure (Alberta Ministry of Transportation 2005).
Potential to Support Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
The broad interpretation of infrastructure indicates that this program could support municipal climate change adaptation strategies related to emergency response, recreation, roads, storm water management, waste management, water quality and others.
"The Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership provides cost-shared funding to eligible municipalities to assist in the construction of municipal water supply and treatment and wastewater treatment and disposal facilities" (Alberta Ministry of Transportation 2013a). Activities and items funded under this program include treatment plants, water supply lines, feasibility studies, water management master plans, water supply studies, pipeline and pumphouse upgrades, water corridor studies, lagoon upgrades, main replacements, and others.
Potential to Support Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
This program has the potential to support municipal climate change adaptation strategies related to water management, water quality, storm water management. However the shoehorning of economic development goals that requires all municipalities receiving these funds to use the private sector for all work undertaken will hamstring local efforts to a degree.
The Federal Gas Tax Fund grant program (begun in 2005 as the New Deal for Cities and Communities) assists municipalities in addressing their sustainable municipal capital infrastructure needs. The program allocates a portion of the federal gasoline tax to Alberta Municipalities "in support of sustainable capital municipal infrastructure to maintain or enhance economic, social and cultural opportunity and well being, while protecting and improving the quality of our environment upon which people and economies of Alberta depend" (Alberta Ministry of Transportation 2013b).
"Funding under this program supports the development of public transit systems, and water and wastewater systems, solid waste management, community energy systems, and community capacity building. For communities with less than 500,000 population, the funding may also be used for rehabilitation of municipal roads and bridges that enhance sustainability outcomes" (Alberta Ministry of Transportation 2013b).
As a requirement of receiving these grant monies, municipalities are required to develop and implement a sustainability plan (Alberta Ministry of Transportation 2013b).
Potential to Support Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
As well as catalyzing the creation of the sustainability plans described above, this program has the potential to fund municipal climate change adaptation strategies based on their contribution to sustainability.
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