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10 Innovative Community Solutions to Tackle Climate Change

Ten projects that are at the heart of building resilience across Canada. 

Biking in the City

Published on March 14, 2022

Across Canada, communities are planning for the current and future impacts of climate change. 

From flooding to rising temperatures and extreme weather events, governments, community organizations and residents are embracing a wide range of solutions to prepare for what comes next. 

It’s these pilot programs and projects that are the heart of building resilience across Canada. We’ve picked ten that are inspiring us — we hope you feel the same.  

Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE), Gull Bay First Nation, ON 

Planning and implementing clean energy projects start with assessing existing energy sources. 

That’s where Indigenous Clean Energy, or ICE, comes in. The non-profit's mission is to advance Indigenous inclusion in the Canadian energy economy through Indigenous leadership and collaboration with energy companies, governments and cleantech innovators. 

Their website acts as a digital portal with resources designed to showcase the true cost of energy within Indigenous communities. Through their work, clean energy technologies have been implemented as an alternative to existing diesel-based energy sources. 

AI for the Resilient City, Calgary, AB 

Cities struggle with what is known as the “urban heat island effect,” or UHI, where areas that lack green space and green infrastructure experience hotter temperatures. 

In an effort to better understand and combat this effect, Evergreen partnered with the City of Calgary to pilot a new data visualization tool, as part of AI for the Resilient City.  

The tool examines extreme heat in the city, letting municipal stakeholders see which areas of the city are most impacted by UHI, and determine where to prioritize action. The municipality can then use the information to plan for a more climate resilient future. Outcomes and insights from this first pilot will be shared later this year. Stay tuned for future phases with other municipalities! 

Al for the Resilient City

Sustainable Mobility Centre, Sherbrooke, QC  

How can a community develop a true culture of sustainability? In Sherbrooke, Quebec, the answer comes in part from the Sustainable Mobility Centre

The Centre brings together 30 partners from various sectors to help develop a culture of sustainable mobility and transportation in the community. The collaborative approach aims to meet the needs of each partner, creating a shared vision of mobility, and creating opportunities for more active and sustainable mobility projects, like bike lanes and EV charging stations. 

Ottawa Community Housing Corporation’s Approach to Retrofitting, Ottawa, ON 

Ottawa Community Housing Corporation (OCHC) is the largest social housing provider in Ottawa, and the second largest in Ontario.  

OCHC is planning to add thousands of new units to its portfolio in the coming years, to help tackle the housing crisis. But they’re also thinking about their existing 15,000 units, which emit 29,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.  

The solution to lowering that number? Retrofits. In the spring of 2020, OCHC started a retrofitting pilot project, installing prefabricated, insulated panels to envelop four 60-year-old townhomes in Ottawa’s Overbrook neighbourhood. The homes received electrical upgrades, new roofs, new windows, and solar panels. They went from emitting 18 tonnes of CO2 annually to net zero emissions.  

Climate Ready Schools Pilot, Milton, ON 

School grounds are often a main green space for the surrounding community. But too often they lack dynamic nature rich landscapes for kids to learn and play, and for community to gather.  

Evergreen’s Climate Ready Schools project aims to change that by redesigning school grounds with and for kids, so they will have access to nature, while increasing the area’s climate resilience, by helping with flood mitigation and temperature control. Working with the Halton District School Board, Irma Coulson Public School’s entire school ground will be transformed into a welcoming living landscape and outdoor learning hub. The new school grounds are scheduled to be unveiled in fall 2022.  

Our Food Future, Guelph, ON 

With extreme weather events and changing temperatures, climate change has the ability to impact Canada’s food security, which is already lacking in many parts of the country. Too many residents live without reliable access to food, while 2.2 million tonnes of food is wasted every year. 

Guelph’s Smart Cities Office is addressing that with their “Our Food Future” project. The projects aims to create Canada’s first circular food economy, reimaginging how food is produced, distributed, sold and consumed. The project brings together food experts and entrepreneurs to tackle this challenge. 

Random Acts of Green App, Peterborough, ON     

Part of climate adaptation lies in building community support for reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.  

Based in Peterborough, the Random Acts of Green app helps individuals and communities learn about their GHG generation within their regular life activities. The app provides data about the impacts of different actions on GHG production, as well as alternatives for reducing GHGs.  

Birch Quarry Lands, Scarborough, ON  

Making use of abandoned space can have a big impact on climate mitigation and adaptation. In Toronto’s east end, an abandoned quarry is being redeveloped into a mix of public parks and housing, designed to help mitigate flooding and high temperatures.  

Evergreen is bringing forward the voices of children to the park consultation process in partnership with Diamond Kilmer Developments, the City of Toronto and the students at Blantyre Public School.  

Working closely with design and child-friendly engagement specialists, students spent time reflecting on their perspectives and priorities for the park. This input informed ideas for a child-friendly park, focusing on nature, climate resilience and accessibility for all park users. 

Birch Cliff Quarry Lands

Quebec City Flood Protection Program, Quebec City, QC 

The impacts of climate change are far reaching and require solutions that touch every corner of a community. 

As severe weather events become more common, adapting existing infrastructure is a key part of building community resilience. In Quebec City, the City reached out to private homes in a neighbourhood with a high risk of flooding and offered to cover the cost of retrofitting their existing gutters. In the end, 100% compliance was achieved, lessening the risk of flooding in the area. 

SmartICE, Nain, Nunavut 

While preparing cities for climate change is essential, communities must also monitor developments in the natural environment. 

The SmartICE project in Nain, Nunavut, provides real-time information for coastal environments. Battery-powered sensors are sealed in floatable white plastic tubes that are embedded in the ice in late November and retrieved in late spring or early summer. These floatable or buoy sensors transmit data (i.e. snow depth, ice thickness and temperature) to a SmartICE data portal through satellites. This data informs harvesters and community members where it is safe and unsafe in terms of ice stability and provides information on changes in the environment from year-to-year.