Hamilton Climate Change Impact Adaptation

Local Impacts of a changing climate

Climate Change is already affecting the City of Hamilton. Over the past 10 years we have seen increased flooding, more extreme weather events – ice storms, freezing rain, high winds, warmer winters and hotter summers with more heat waves and hot days and nights.

Given the amount of greenhouse gases already emitted to the atmosphere by local and global sources (transportation, industry, buildings, energy consumption – heating and cooling, waste and agriculture), impacts will continue in the near future and even increase for decades or centuries to come. It’s important for all of us to be prepared for likely climate changes and weather impacts in our City now and in the future so our families, neighbourhoods, communities, public services and local businesses can be as resilient as possible.

Resiliency requires thinking and actions that will address impacts to our social, structural and natural infrastructure.

A report conducted for the City by ICLEI Canada: The Science of Climate Change discusses the predicted climate change impacts for Hamilton, Ontario. To download the report click here.

Please read and think what these impacts mean for you, your household or organization and the community.

What can Hamilton expect, without immediate climate action?

  • An annual Increase in temperatures of approximately 1.5°C in the 2020s, 3.0°C in the 2050s, and 4.8°C in the 2080s
  • Changes in precipitation with annual precipitation days of 118 increasing to 126 days in the 2020s, 132 days in the 2050s, and 137 days in the 2080s
  • Intensity, duration, and frequency of extreme weather events, such as heavy rain events, ice storms, and windstorms, are expected to increase over the next century.
  • An increase in the frequency of heat days (>30°C) and warm nights of 20 days in the 2020s, 33 days in the 2050s, and 48 days in the 2080s.

What has Hamilton experienced?

  • Increasing temperatures in the spring and summers leading to the introduction of heat warnings in Hamilton beginning in 2008;
  • Annual average mean temperature in Hamilton has increased by 0.9°C since 1970;
  • Total annual precipitation in Hamilton increased 26mm; this equates to approximately 3% increase in annual average precipitation since 1970;
  • Increasing extreme precipitation events leading to flooding of the community since 2004 in areas across Hamilton including the 2009 Red Hill Valley Parkway flooding and the 2012 rainstorm.
  • Ice storms and freezing rain leading to power outages, damage to trees, downed powerlines, difficulties in shipping products in 2013;
  • Wind damage seen in 2014 with wind gusts hit close to 100 km/h and a tornado sighting in 2008 resulting in tree damage, power outages and damage to buildings and windows including debris
  • Hot and dry to drought conditions in 2016 leading to water bans, open air burning bans and calls for tree watering by citizens;
  • Land erosion and flooding in 2017 impacting lakeside recreational trails, park facilities, roads, and piers

How are we planning to adapt?

The Hamilton Community Climate Change Action Plan [link] identified the need for both reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change and the need to adapt to the changes and lower the risk of impacts of a changing climate.

The City of Hamilton began engaging in the climate change impact adaptation planning process through the ICLEI Canada Building Adaptive and Resilient Cities program looking at impacts on the services that the City provides to residents and operations that keep the City functioning during extreme weather events.   Concerning gaps were identified around impacts for and in the broader Hamilton community that the City either would not experience directly in its operations or had no authority to manage in the community (e.g. increase insurance, damage of personal property, agricultural impacts).

It is clear that in order for adaptation to be effective , and  successful in Hamilton, it will need the engagement, communication, understanding and supporting partnerships of  the Hamilton community at the social, organizational, local economic, academic, and personal level.

Workshops and meetings to gain community insight and feedback in the adaptation planning process began in 2017 and continue as an on-going effort. Major concerns identified so far by the community include extreme heat, flooding, extreme weather events causing property damage and economic impacts, mental health impacts, and financial impacts relating to increases in utilities and food prices.

Current Initiatives

Community Climate Change Impact Adaptation Planning will be ongoing. Currently, we are working to better understand the risks and vulnerabilities that different Hamilton communities will experience as a result of climate change impacts by engaging with those communities. This information and exchange of ideas will be used to inform adaptation plans and actions at the organizational, community and the household level to increase resiliency in the Hamilton community.

How can I be involved and take action?

Contact us at 905-546-2424 ext. 5288 or climatechange@hamilton.ca to learn more about how to be involved in the community climate change adaptation planning process.

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