South Huron's Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

In 2020, the Municipality of South Huron, a rural community of about 10,000 people, developed South Huron’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy to address the continued impact of climate change on the local weather, environment, and the entire community. The development of the adaptation strategy was achieved through a collaborative effort between municipal staff and Council, members of the Climate Change Adaptation Advisory Committee, stakeholders and members of the general public. The strategy received financial support from the Government of Canada through the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (MCIP), a five-year $75-million program aimed at providing assistance in responding to climate change for the protection of citizens, environment and the economy.

Through extensive review of future climate projections, South Huron’s is anticipating a future climate that will include warming temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, a shift in seasonal changes and changes in the duration, frequency, and severity of extreme weather events. Keeping these future changes at the forefront during discussions, the adaptation strategy identified a total of twenty-two priority impact statements to address through action implementation. The outcome was a strategy comprised of eight goals to help achieve its vision of “a future-ready South Huron that is resilient to the impacts of a changing climate.”
The path forward in addressing the impacts from climate change on South Huron is prioritized through the identified thirty-eight actions to be implemented over a five-year period. Adoption of the strategy occurred on September 8, 2020, through unanimous support from the members of South Huron Council. Since the adoption, South Huron has been working towards the implementation of actions through continued municipal planning and community partnerships.

Identifying Actions

During the creation of the adaptation strategy, South Huron established a series of eight goals to categorize the twenty-two priority impacts. This ensured that the action items to address the impacts were appropriately structured and provided the opportunity to consider related action items during the planning process. The implementation plan identified key components of each action item, including: description and scope of the action, implementation lead (both internal and external organizations), supporting department(s), associated plans, policies, projects and strategies, timing of implementation, duration and frequency, estimated resources required and potential partnership opportunities.

A full list of these actions is available on South Huron’s website, however, a few of them are identified below:
Goal 1: Integrate climate change adaptation into municipal planning, asset management and operations;

  • Develop a qualitative climate lens tool to guide staff and Council decision-making.

Goal 2: Support municipal and community resilience awareness and action;

  • Initiate community-wide conversation to provide information to the entire community (residents, businesses) about relevant climate change topics to provide the tools required to incorporate resilience on a community-wide scale.

Goal 3: Ensure community readiness and a coordinated response to extreme weather events;

  • Conduct vulnerability assessment of critical infrastructure within municipal facilities and prioritize deficiencies required to be addressed to ensure resiliency.

Goal 4: Reduce risks to buildings, properties and people from flooding;

  • Require developers to utilize best practices within site plan design to ensure risk of flooding within new developments is reduced.

Goal 5: Minimize disruption to municipal service delivery;

  • Identify critical services; develop, document and train on contingency procedures

Goal 6: Reduce health and safety risks to municipal workers and community members from extreme temperatures;

  • Develop an extreme temperature training program for municipal staff.

Goal 7: Protect and enhance the natural landscape to mitigate impact; and

  • Development of a municipal-wide forest strategy

Goal 8: Strengthen the resiliency of municipal infrastructure and facilities.

  • Incorporate climate change impacts into the inspection process and identified deficiencies related to municipal infrastructure and facilities are completed and remediated on a regular basis.

Additional Actions Identified:

  • Eliminate single-use plastics within Municipal offices (Single-Use Plastics and Related Item Reduction Policy)


South Huron began to plan for the implementation of action items identified in the strategy after the adoption in September of 2020. A full list of these actions is available on South Huron’s website, however below is an example of one action already implemented by the Municipality:

Public outreach through a community forum platform is one action within the Municipality’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy that has been fully implemented to date. The South Huron’s Climate Change Video Series titled Rising to the Challenge officially launched on June 18, 2021 with the release of the introductory video. Over the next several months, members of the Climate Change Adaptation Advisory Committee worked with industry experts to develop a suite of videos containing practical information on various themes that are relevant to the community. During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Committee shifted to host a free online video series to provide a way for the public to find out about climate change efforts and to become part of it while being safe at home. The benefit of hosting an online video series is the information remains available for viewing on the Municipality’s YouTube Channel at any time and can be used for future initiatives. To date, the entire video series has generated over 470 views. Below is a snapshot of the video themes and expert speakers:

  • Introduction to South Huron’s Video Series Rising to the Challenge (featuring Steve Boles, Chair of the Climate Change Adaptation Advisory Committee and Stacey Jeffery, Municipality of South Huron)
  • Trees, Stewardship, Grants and Preparing for the Future (featuring Ian Jean, Land Stewardship Specialist from Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority)
  • Valuing Green Infrastructure (featuring Hope Brock, Healthy Watersheds Technician and Tommy Kokas, Water Resources Engineer from Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority)
  • Home Flood Protection (featuring Cheryl Evans from the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation and Larry Freiburger from AET Group)
  • Opportunities to Reduce your Waste (featuring Francis Veilleux from Bluewater Recycling Association, Eco Exeter and Michael and Lindsay Groot from Wholesome Pastures)
  • Conservation and Innovative Farming Practices (featuring Mike Strang of Strang Farms)
  • Efficiency Improvements for Comfort and Affordability (featuring Councillor Marissa Vaughan, Council representative of the Climate Change Adaptation Advisory Committee and Justin Mason, Registered Energy Advisor)

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

South Huron began to plan for the implementation of action items identified in the strategy after the adoption in September of 2020. Although only a few actions have been fully implemented to date and monitoring has not occurred, it is important to highlight the unintentional outcome of the adaptation strategy which plays an important role in the overall success of action implementation. A Community Guide to Understanding and Responding to Climate Change was created and intended to provide a non-technical overview of climate change and how the community can respond. South Huron has also generated a Climate Change Resource Library (organized by topic) to help individuals and businesses access resources of interest. This is an important outcome of the strategy that helps raise awareness of the issues surrounding climate change and while promoting a resilient and well-informed community.

Next Steps

South Huron’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy is the first iteration of a climate change adaptation strategy for the municipality and is intended to be living document; one which will be updated as new information becomes available and as the Municipality moves through implementing and evaluating the actions.


Link to Full Case Study

Additional Resources:

Using climate change projections enables better adaptation decisions. To learn how to choose, access, and understand climate data, visit’s Learning Zone.