We’ll be seeing more of these aging-cities stories in the coming years. And the push-back from city and local governments will make the infrastructure issues even worse. A study will be conducted (or several studies), and it will show that cities are under-prepared to deal with the variety of climate impacts. The solutions are expensive, and benefits are difficult to quantify in the public’s mind.
This piece in the Toronto Star outlines a recent study that concludes the city’s roads and sewer systems are vulnerable to increased environmental impacts. Some members of the city council didn’t like what the study found, and they parade the usual tropes to avoid action - that investing in infrastructure based on science will kill jobs, the climate models are wrong, that climate science is incomplete, etc.
A study commissioned by the city predicts heavier rain storms, but less snow in 2040. How will the city adapt its outdated infrastructure?
Toronto must overhaul its aging infrastructure to adapt to dramatic new climate change projections — a process that could cost billions — say some councillors and environmentalists.
But some fear the city is not taking the matter seriously enough, as the chair of the Parks and Environment Committee remains skeptical of the projections.
A study commissioned by the city and set to be discussed Tuesday by the parks committee predicts temperatures about 4.4 degrees warmer and a marked increase in extreme storms by 2040.
“If people are concerned about a crumbling Gardiner, this study makes it look like a teeny, tiny pothole,” said Franz Hartmann of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “If we’re not paying attention, it will literally be catastrophic.”
The study, called “Toronto’s Future Weather and Climate Driver Study,” foresees Toronto’s climate 30 years in the future as marked by fewer but more intense storms, less snow in the winter and increased heat and humidity in the summer.
Torontonians have already braved three of the worst storms in the city’s recorded history in the past 12 years, and sweltered through the earliest known heat wave on June 19, 2012.
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.