This case study addresses the climate impacts risks and vulnerabilities related to extreme weather events, including increasing experiences of extreme heat days, multiple instances of extreme rainfall and flooding, and significant impacts from the ice storm that hit southern Ontario in 2013. The ice storm left 20,000 homes without power, and many bus routes inaccessible for days. Brampton is also situated in one of Canada’s tornado pathways. When investigating the City’s response to these events, a significant gap in outreach to vulnerable populations was found. Public information about ice storm response was delivered through social media, but a large segment of the population was not reached. The City found that there was no direct method of wellness checks, and volunteer agencies were frequently overwhelmed. During extreme heat days, the City opened eight cooling centers located in community centers, but their usage was limited. These findings led the City to the realization that vulnerable populations were not always being served during extreme weather events – meaning the target audience of the City’s emergency communications efforts were sometimes unreached during critical times. The City of Brampton then discovered a key opportunity to improve its emergency response outreach. Census data demonstrates that 90% of Brampton citizens had religious affiliations. All major faith groups were represented and made frequent use of 79 registered places of worship across the City. The presence of faith-based communities in the City of Brampton brought to light a new method of sharing information and spreading resilience across vulnerable communities. From this realization, the Lighthouse Project began.
In recent years, the City of Brampton has experienced multiple extreme weather events (i.e., extreme heat and rainfall, flooding, and ice storms) that triggered the development of this community-based adaptation project, which is a citywide initiative aiming to involve local faith-based organizations (FBO) in climate change adaptation. This initiative, undertaken as part of ICLEI’s Collaborative Implementation Group project, is an extension of an existing FBO network called the Lighthouse Program, which focuses on sharing emergency preparedness knowledge through religious networks. The purpose of this program is to assist vulnerable populations during emergencies and improve the City’s ability to respond to extreme weather events. The project included a study identifying and mapping vulnerable populations and faith-based centers around the City, forming relationships with leaders from FBO’s around the City, and hosting training workshops for FBO volunteers from different religious communities. There were several positive outcomes associated with this project, mostly stemming from its innovativeness and inclusiveness across the City of Brampton.Read the Full Story