Canada seeks up­dated cli­mate change pre­dic­tions for new build­ing codes

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - NATIONAL NEWS - MIA RAB­SON

OT­TAWA — The Na­tional Re­search Coun­cil says Canada’s homes and high­ways were built with as­sump­tions about weather pat­terns that are no longer rel­e­vant, thanks to cli­mate change.

Now the NRC is ask­ing for help to fig­ure out what kind of weather to ex­pect in the com­ing years, so it can re­vamp na­tional build­ing codes to en­sure ev­ery­thing from houses and of­fice tow­ers to bridges and waste­water sys­tems can with­stand the con­se­quences of a warmer planet.

“Canada’s build­ings and pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture sys­tems ... are de­signed based on his­toric data as­sum­ing a sta­tion­ary cli­mate, and were not de­signed to ac­com­mo­date cer­tain ex­treme weather events be­ing at­trib­uted to cli­mate change,” reads a Nov. 6 ten­der is­sued by the coun­cil.

“As such, there is a grow­ing risk of fail­ure of build­ings and in­fra­struc­ture.”

From melt­ing per­mafrost and coastal ero­sion due to higher sea lev­els in the north, to the un­usual warmth and dry­ness of the sum­mer in Bri­tish Columbia this year, ex­perts say Canada has al­ready started to bear wit­ness to the ef­fects of cli­mate change.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau warned about the in­creas­ing fre­quency of ex­treme weather last spring while he was tour­ing homes in western Que­bec dam­aged by the en­gorged Ot­tawa River.

The costs faced by the fed­eral dis­as­ter fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance pro­gram have also soared. Since 2011, the pro­gram has spent an av­er­age of $360 mil­lion a year, three times what the av­er­age an­nual cost was over the pre­vi­ous decade. Most of that is for floods and for­est fires.

Adapt­ing the build­ing code to mit­i­gate and adapt to new weather pat­terns is one of the com­mit­ments of the na­tional cli­mate change frame­work, agreed to by Ot­tawa and 11 prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries al­most a year ago. In the spring bud­get, Ot­tawa set aside $40 mil­lion over five years for the NRC’s five-year cli­mate-re­silient build­ings project.

But be­fore the build­ing codes can be adapted, the NRC needs to know what kind of ex­treme weather to ex­pect. The ten­der seeks a con­sul­tant to up­date weather and cli­mate data for 660 lo­ca­tions across the coun­try, in­clud­ing ex­pected tem­per­a­tures, wind pat­terns, rain and snow fall, and hu­mid­ity.

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