Understanding and Assessing Impacts
Infrastructure Ontario (IO) is a Crown agency of the Province of Ontario that supports the Ontario government’s initiatives to modernize and maximize the value of public infrastructure and real estate. IO acts as procurement and commercial lead for all major public infrastructure projects in the province and manages the government real estate portfolio through asset planning, facilities contract management, and real estate advisory services. In 2019, in partnership with the Ontario Climate Consortium, IO undertook a Provincial Flood Resilience Assessment study and developed relative flood risk rankings for a subset of core assets that underpin Ontario’s resilience as a province, including ministry office buildings, detention facilities, courthouses, police detachments, and laboratories. Numerous sources of data were used to inform a methodology wherein risk = hazards x vulnerabiliites / adaptive capacity.
Along with identifying hazards (proximity to waterbodies or floodplain, overland flow potential), the vulnerability of assets was assessed (occupancy, facility age and condition, presence of basements, social or cultural value, proximity to important environmental areas), and the adaptive capacity of each facility to cope with extreme weather events (availability of backup power, presence of weeping tiles, and sump pumps & backwater valves, Low Impact Development measures, emergency management plans). Identifying existing adaptive capacity was a unique aspect of this methodology and study that responded to IO’s objective to focus not just on identifying existing risk but also on identifying existing resilience.
For its work on new infrastructure construction projects, IO is employing site-level climate risk assessments to inform climate adapted design measures. In so doing, it is developing a dataset of Ontario-based climate risks and adaptation measures that can be leveraged on future projects and in ongoing asset management programs. IO also participates in several other asset management working groups and uses data from Climate Atlas and climatedata.ca, as well as ISO guidelines and Climate Lens guidance from Infrastructure Canada, to further identify risk and resilience measures.
To enact climate resilience it is key to take some first steps and learn from them. In IO’s case their Flood Resilience Assessment study, which brought to bear the strong research-informed analysis capacity of the Ontario Climate Consortium, was the first step that yielded valuable insights on what was known and not known about the sources of flood risk within the Provincial portfolio, this led to a strategy to further develop work around those insights, which led to a climate resilience program of work at IO embedded in day-to-day practices, which greatly facilitates its uptake amongst staff. By taking these first steps and learning and collaborating as they go IO is quickly emerging as a leader in infrastructure climate resilience.