Through Continued Collaboration, Seeking Solutions and Opportunities
The City of Greater Sudbury is a leader in environmental and climate change adaptation planning. The city has a long history of environmental measures, in part due to the need to spur recovery of the widespread environmental damage from the nickel mining activities in the region. The city is now extremely proud of its environmental initiatives.
Two extreme weather events cemented Greater Sudbury’s commitment to climate change adaptation. In 2007, a 13 year old boy drowned after he fell into the flooded waters of Junction Creek and was swept into a culvert during a heavy rainstorm—showing just how personal climate change impacts can be. In 2009, another intense rainstorm hit Sudbury: more than 90 millimetres of rain fell in just 90 minutes, causing flooding and property damage. The low-income neighbourhoods of the downtown were hardest hit and again, there was a personal connection with a climate event that highlighted the need for proactive planning.
The Greater Sudbury Climate Change Consortium has its roots in a 2007 case study of climate change and adaption in Greater Sudbury conducted by Dr. Liette Vasseur of Laurentian University, with funding from Natural Resources Canada and various community partners. This research project concluded "... we must move from [climate] impact research to developing a community’s ability to adapt."
In addition, the report concluded that while some areas in Sudbury have some adaptive capacity to adjust to climate change, “Responsibility must be shared through public participation in management, decision making and planning. Without greater understanding of how to involve all stakeholders, it is clear that communities will not be able to adapt to climate change, they will only continue to react to changes rather than proactively plan to cope with new conditions.”
Building on the previous research, in 2009, Conservation Sudbury-Nickel District Conservation Authority (NDCA) adopted a position paper recommending further actions to enhance the adaptive capacity of the community. A key recommendation of this position paper was the creation of the Greater Sudbury Climate Change Consortium. Greater Sudbury’s municipal council officially endorsed this project, as did the City of Greater Sudbury Healthy Community Cabinet.
Mindful of the disproportionate effects of climate change on vulnerable people, the newly formed Consortium partnered with the Social Planning Council of Sudbury and the City of Greater Sudbury to organize a workshop, bringing together people and organizations that have a hands-on role in dealing with the human issues of climate change.
The workshop, held in February 2011, gave the opportunity to several community groups concerned about issues related to poverty, vulnerable people, and social justice to discuss the influence of climate change in their activities and work.
In February of 2012, the Consortium once again convened a workshop to bring together community partners, this time through the Gateway project. As part of its mandate to support the development of scientifically based climate change adaptation strategies for the watershed and community, the Consortium engaged with the province-wide Weather and Water Information Gateway Database, funded under the Ontario Regional Adaptation Collaborative.
The goals of this workshop were to introduce the Gateway tool and discover how it can be helpful as part of a suite of tools to collaboratively work on necessary adaptations to climate change impacts. The workshop also engaged participants in a social network exercise developed by the Sudbury Social Planning Council, including a technology-based mapping component. The result was a report with recommendations for better connections among organizations.
The Consortium continues to grow and attract a broader group of partner groups from the community. Through meetings, workshops, and other forms of collaboration, the Consortium continues to support the development of scientifically based climate change adaptation strategies for the watershed and community.