Our climate is changing. Just as many Canadians have, the NCC has also experienced extreme weather events in recent years, which have impacted its assets and operations. To protect the legacy of the National Capital Region, we need to understand what changes are coming our way and how they will impact our lives.

With the NCC’s climate change adaptation project, we are studying these changes and taking action to limit their impacts. This project is a commitment under the NCC Sustainable Development Strategy, 2018–2023.

The NCC’s climate change adaptation project

This three-year project aims to ensure that the NCC’s work stands the test of time and climate change. We’re looking at everything the NCC manages, from green space to built assets, and how we use them.

The climate change adaptation project consists of three phases: climate projections study, vulnerability and risk assessment, and the development of an adaptation plan.

Phase 1 (completed): Climate Projections Study

The NCC, in partnership with the City of Ottawa, commissioned a comprehensive climate change projections study for the National Capital Region. The study included feedback from staff and stakeholders, such as the Ville de Gatineau, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Centre for Climate Services, and conservation authorities.

Key findings

The study concluded that, by the 2050s, under a high-emission scenario, we can expect to see many changes in the National Capital Region.

Earlier springs

  • Spring will start two weeks earlier.

Hotter summers

  • There will be four times as many days over 30°C.

Later autumns

  • Fall will start three weeks later.

Shorter winters with less snow and fewer cold days

  • Winter will be shorter by five weeks.
  • Annual snowfall will decrease by 20%.
  • There will be 35% fewer days below -10°C.
  • There may be more freezing rain.

A warmer and wetter climate

  • Annual precipitation (spring, fall, winter) will increase by 8%.
  • The maximum daily precipitation will increase by 14%.
  • The annual average temperature will increase by 3.2°C.
  • Warming will create favourable conditions for storms, tornadoes and wildfires.

Datasets

A complete and updated version of the datasets presented in this report is available on the City of Ottawa’s Open Ottawa website. The online datasets include an Excel version of the results, as well as netCDF files with more detail than that provided in the report (e.g. indices calculated for each model and cell).

Phase 2 (completed): Vulnerability and Risk Assessment

The NCC is vulnerable to the climate hazards listed above. They magnify existing stressors or challenges, and will create new ones. The NCC has evaluated its vulnerability to 27 climate hazards for 8 sectors that capture all NCC-managed assets, operations and programs.

Key findings

This study found a total of 124 potential impacts on NCC business lines. Of these,

  • 61 need immediate action
  • 38 need a plan to address the risk
  • 25 need minor controls and monitoring

We will address all 124 potential impacts in the Climate Adaptation Plan (phase 3). We will rank actions based on cost, practicality and alignment with other priorities, including reducing our carbon footprint. Of the 61 potential climate impacts that need immediate action, approximately

  • 36% of the risks are related to extreme heat
  • 36% are related to changes in precipitation
  • 20% are related to extreme weather events, including extreme blizzards, ice storms, extreme winds and so on
  • 8% are related to seasonable variability

The following NCC sectors have the greatest number of overall risks, and the greatest number of high risks:

  • infrastructure and operations
  • natural resources and parks
  • buildings

The NCC has also already commissioned a risk assessment of the effects of climate change on the Rideau Canal Skateway. In 2022, based on this assessment, the NCC entered a four-year partnership with Carleton University.

Phase 3 (to be completed by fall 2023): The Adaptation Plan

In this final phase of the project, the NCC will develop a 10-year climate adaptation plan. The plan will include actions to manage the greatest climate risks, and identify risks shared by the NCC, City of Ottawa and Ville de Gatineau.