Climate Change and Community Preparedness

It was recognized that residents would benefit from the development of a public education campaign, geared towards climate change resiliency. Actions by residents serve to reduce the call upon town and other agency services in times of extreme weather and emergency response.

Oakville's Climate Change Primer

Oakville's Climate Change Primer (pdf) provides local information for residents on the science and complexity of climate change with climate change projections for southern Ontario and more specifically Oakville. This online document links directly to local information on how to help protect human health, the natural environment, residential homes and properties against the impacts of a changing climate.

Extreme weather maps

  • Global Map - This map represents a one month period, May 2011, where droughts, extreme rain and flash floods caused food shortages, wildfires, death and the displacement of populations world-wide.
  • Canadian Map - Major disasters related to climate during the past decade (from 2004-2014).
  • Greater Toronto Area Map - Major disasters related to climate during the past decade (from 2004-2014).

Local impacts and actions

Oakville's Changing Climate, this table provides an overview of the observed and projected climatic changes in Oakville. All data, unless otherwise referenced is taken from the Canadian Climate Change Scenario's Network's (CCCSN) Localizer Report.

1.0 Annual increase in temperature and precipitation

NOTE: This section covers the projected annual increases in temperature and precipitation not the extreme temperatures or precipitation events that have are being noticed in Southern Ontario, these extreme weather events are discussed in Section 5.0 Increased Frequency and severity of Extreme Temperatures.

The impacts of an increase in annual temperatures and precipitation are easier to prepare for and adapt to since the change is gradual. Although it may be easier to adapt to these slight increases over time this does not mean that mitigation efforts related to energy and fuel conservation can be stopped, in fact they need to become more aggressive.

Through recent experience and predicted models, warmer winters ON AVERAGE are projected despite the unusually cold winter of 2013-2014 which had 13 cold alerts spanning 41 days in Halton Region.

An increase in annual average temperatures refers to both summer and winter temperatures, and the expected impacts of more highly variable temperatures are reviewed below.

1.1 Northerly migration of invasive species (forests stands hit with extreme weather being more susceptible to pests and disease, Emerald Ash Borer, Asian Long Horned Beetle)

1.2 Changing migration patterns and increase activity of disease vectors (West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease)

1.3 Longer, warmer and more variable growing season (drought, heat, more variable crop types and yields)

1.4 Variable winter climate and precipitation patterns (freezing rain, sleet, increased freeze/thaw cycles, spring melt)

Increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather

The impacts of climate change are complex and interrelated. Rising average temperatures and increasing precipitation may cause an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events including: high winds, extreme precipitation, lightning storms, and extreme temperature events.

Southern Ontario has recently been hit a number of times with severe storm events. Luckily most have bypassed Oakville, but Mississauga, Burlington, Toronto and Hamilton have experienced significant and costly impacts resulting from extreme weather. For example, since the 2005 Finch Street washout Toronto has had to recover financially from five other extreme weather events including an ice storm, high wind events and other instances of extreme precipitation.

This section details several types of extreme weather events including: high winds/tornados, severe storms (extreme precipitation, lighting), and extreme temperatures/poor air quality. Click on each of the links below for more information on how you can build your resilience to the following extreme weather events.

To learn more on how you can build your resilience to all extreme weather and emergency situations before during and after an event, visit the town's Emergency Preparedness page.

Climate change

2.0 Heavy Precipitation

Similar to high wind, extreme precipitation can have devastating effects on our natural and built environments, health and safety as well as recreation and tourism. Observation of changing weather patterns and data projections indicate that more precipitation will fall in shorter periods of time causing personal safety risks, environmental impacts and property damage.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) states, "In general, overland flooding resulting in water entering a home is not covered. Overland flooding usually occurs when bodies of water, such as rivers, dams and other watercourses, overflow onto dry land and cause damage to residential areas. Overland flooding and seepage cannot be covered by home insurance because it is only a risk for the small percentage of the population who live in a flood plain. Since the purpose of insurance is to spread risk among many policyholders, flood insurance for those at risk would be unaffordable." Did you know that a recent study by the IBC found that over 70 percent of Canadians believe they are covered for overland flooding, when in actuality they are not?

The Insurance Bureau of Canada also clarifies that, "Water damage in a basement due to a sewer backup is only covered if specific sewer backup coverage has been purchased."

For information on how to prepare for heavy rain and the possibility of flooding visit the Emergency Preparedness flooding page.

Building your resiliency

  • Visit the Weather Network or Environment Canada’s Weather website for weather conditions.
  • Be aware of the appropriate safety measures to take before heading out into any extreme weather event. Refer to Environment Canada for more information of these safety measures.
  • Be sure to review your insurance policies – call your insurance professional if you have questions about your coverage or call the Insurance Bureau of Canada's (IBC) Consumer Information Centre at 1-800-377-6378.
  • Visit the IBC’s website for more information on basement flooding and the kinds of water damage that are covered by insurance.
  • Periodically check for foundation cracks and refer to the Sump and Sewage Pump Manufacturers Association for pump maintenance and basement flooding protection tips.
  • Refer to the town’s Flood Mapping and Prioritization Study to see whether your home is at risk of flooding.
  • Visit Halton Regions Basement Flooding website to access information on Halton Regions Downspout Disconnection Program, Basement Flooding Prevention Subsidy Program, available financial assistance and Halton Region's Basement Flooding Mitigation Study and to download their Guide to Flooding Prevention and Recovery.
  • Increase the amount of permeable surface on your property to allow water to infiltrate into the ground by planting trees to absorb and impede the flow of water or by installing a rain barrel like those offered at Halton Region’s Annual Rain Barrel Sale held each spring in each Halton municipality.

Institute of Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR)

The ICLR is a disaster prevention research and communications centre established by Canada’s property and casualty (p and c) insurance industry as an independent, not-for-profit research institute affiliated with the Western University. The ICLR has produced several short videos to help you protect your home against the impacts of our changing climate. More videos can be found on ICLR's YouTube channel.

Why basements flood
Lot drainage issues
Taking action to reduce basement flooding
Plumbing measures to limit basement flooding

3.0 High Wind and Tornadoes

In the past an average of approximately 12 tornadoes were reported in Ontario per year. In 2013, 22 tornadoes were reported in Ontario. Environment Canada accounts for this increase in part due to population growth and urban sprawl – there are more people in more places to report such occurrences. But there is also scientific evidence that states that rising air and water temperatures will contribute to more tornado activity in areas not previously prone to this type of activity. Interesting to note, Environment Canada confirms that Ontario has experienced eight tornadoes in 2014 already (as of July 30), with the first five occurring on a Tuesday. Tornado season typically lasts until early October.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), wind damage is covered under most Canadian policies, and damage to vehicles from wind is usually covered by a comprehensive auto insurance policy or if ‘all perils’ coverage has been purchased. Purchasing this coverage is not mandatory, so check your policy.

For information on how you can build your resiliency visit the high wind and tornadoes pages.

4.0 Thunder and Lightning Activity

According to Environment Canada, lightning flashes occur in Canada over two million times a year, including about once every three seconds during the summer months. In Canada, lightning strikes kill up to 10 people each year and seriously injure about 164 others. Lightning can ignite up to 4,000 forest fires per year in Canada. A reminder from Environment Canada states, ‘When thunder roars, go indoors! – When you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning.’ For information on how to prepare for increased lightning activity visit the towns Emergency Preparedness page.

5.0 Temperature Extremes

In the baseline period of 1971 – 2000, Oakville experienced only 16 extreme heat days in 30 years. Oakville experienced 30 extreme heat days in 2005 alone and it is predicted that these numbers could more than triple by the 2080s.

An increase in the frequency and duration of extreme temperature events such as heat, often accompanied by smog, and extreme cold events pose health and safety risks to town staff and residents. It is important to be aware of appropriate actions and safety measures to take during extreme heat events or on days of poor air quality. The Halton region Health Department issues all heat, smog and cold related warnings to area municipalities who in turn offer relief programs. For more information on how to protect human health in light of temperature extreme and poor air quality visit the Halton Region website.

Feedback and questions

Please email to provide the town with feedback on this information, to request a hard copy or to tell us how you are incorporating the actions into your daily life.