“If people are concerned about a crumbling Gardiner, this study makes it look like a teeny, tiny pothole. If we’re not paying attention, it will literally be catastrophic.” – Franz Hartmann of the Toronto Environmental Alliance
Toronto is studying how climate change will impact both its aging infrastructure and planned projects. The report, “Toronto’s Future Weather and Climate”, modeled local changes projected for the 2040s, including an average annual temperature increase of 4.4°C. Toronto must also plan for fewer but more extreme winter storms, a tripling of days warmer than 30°C and a quadrupling of heatwaves.
Heatwaves are serious public health issues for communities with aging populations: in 2003 a heatwave in Europe killed 70,000 (mostly elderly) people.
The city’s roads, sewers, storm drains and electrical grids were simply not built to withstand the new climate, said Councillor Gord Perks, a member of the committee.
“If you took Toronto and put it in another part of the world, our infrastructure would be wrong for that weather. This is the same kind of problem,” he said.
He said the study means the city has “billions of dollars of work to do,” including expanding the capacity of sewers and re-engineering green spaces to accommodate ponds of rainwater.
“We’re already experiencing severe weather… . We can’t delay doing this work for even one year,” he said.