Ottawa’s top climate risks

The City undertook a Climate Vulnerability and Risk Assessment to identify the top climate risks facing Ottawa. This is the second phase of the Climate Resiliency Strategy development.

The Climate Vulnerability and Risk Assessment draws on the climate projections developed in 2020 as well as input and expertise from City staff, community partners and the public. It assessed how vulnerable Ottawa is to changing climate conditions and prioritizes where action is most needed.

The project assessed close to 150 potential climate impacts on health, community well-being, infrastructure, natural environment and the economy. Of these potential climate impacts, 40 priority risks were identified that require action in the next one to three years. These include risks related to higher temperatures and more precipitation, as well as more extreme weather like flooding, severe winds and freezing rain.

Some of the priority risks include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased heat-related illnesses
  • Increased need for cooling in buildings (especially in community buildings like schools, low-income housing and private long-term care facilities)
  • More invasive species, pests and diseases harming trees, greenspaces, and agricultural production
  • New or intensified disease vectors (for example ticks that carry Lyme disease, or mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus)
  • Increased damage to roads, buildings and other infrastructure from freeze-thaw and freezing rain
  • Flood damage to infrastructure and property from heavy rains and riverine flooding
  • Increased pressures on the City and community services to respond to simultaneous or repeated extreme weather events
  • Reduced access to essential services such as electricity, healthcare, education, food banks and transit during extreme weather
  • Increased pressures on low-income and other disproportionately affected people (mental, physical and financial health)

More information about these climate impacts is available in the Climate Vulnerability and Risk Assessment report and Appendix D (Climate Vulnerabilities and Risks by Focus Area). A summary of the priority risks is also available.

The Climate Vulnerability and Risk Assessment was presented to the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management on June 21, 2022 and City Council on July 6, 2022. You can watch the recordings of Committee and Council on YouTube.

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