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Extreme Weather Resilience

Faith & the Common Good is encouraging faith groups to explore how to serve their communities by helping vulnerable members prepare for and cope with climate induced extreme weather impacts (ex. extreme heat, ice storms, flooding).

The Lighthouse Project

Why is this work important?

Extreme weather events are no longer once-in-100-year occurrences. The Insurance Bureau of Canada reports that claim payouts from severe weather have doubled every five to ten years since the 1980s.

Municipalities and traditional emergency response actors are struggling to meet the overwhelming needs of simply maintaining critical infrastructure in the face of these unprecedented stresses.  Too frequently, our most vulnerable community members are left without sufficient support.

Faith groups can add great value to local emergency response structures.  They are typically the first ones in and last ones to leave.   They possess a shared sacred calling around community service and care for the Earth.  They offer local community connections, volunteer mobilization, and locally relevant resources that can enhance response and recovery effectiveness.

Working together to leverage these shared assets on behalf of our most vulnerable should be an important part of our local climate response plans.

 

Resilient Communities = Connected Communities

MapResileince-300x232.pngWith support from Live Green Toronto , Olive Tree Foundation, Evergreen CityWorksWellbeing TorontoCity of Toronto’s Environment & Energy Division, City of Toronto's Office of Emergency Management and the University of Toronto’s Geography & Planning department, we conducted a 2015 proof of concept project to understand how Toronto’s diverse faith communities could be better utilized as local service centers during extreme weather emergencies.  The project featured a year-long, in-depth assessment of diverse faith pilot sites across the city as well as public workshops, training, cross sector collaboration, and resource development.

What did we learn? 

Neighbourhoods are most resilient when residents know each other, have multiple active networks, care for their vulnerable neighbours and have committed and tangible external supports. 

That is why our on-going extreme weather resilience work is focused on building a "social infrastructure" for climate response.  Faith communities have important roles to play in helping to curate community "resilience hubs" where residents feel welcome, animated, and willing to stay and contribute. 

Check out our 2015 Toronto-area case studies to see the wide variety of local partnerships that diverse places of faith established to increase the climate resilience of their neighborhoods.  The following video also provides a glimpse of one of the early community engagement workshops that was held as part of our 2015 Toronto pilot to help connect communities.

How do I learn more?

Join us as a learning partner in our latest endeavor — The Lighthouse Project, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The Lighthouse Project is working in Brampton, Toronto, Burlington, and Hamilton to understand effective community engagement strategies used to promote the type of multi-stakeholder, multi-generational, and multi-cultural networks that will contribute to extreme weather preparedness: before, during, and after an extreme weather event.

partner logos

In each city, the project will:

Work with existing local networks of community partners, interfaith stakeholders and municipal advisors to choose suitable hub sites, or to establish a resilience network.

Recruit diverse local stakeholders to participate by hosting fun and informative Resilientville role play simulations, or Resilientville asset mapping workshops (developed by San Francisco’s Neighborhood Empowerment Network).

Form working groups at each hub site where local stakeholders will design and develop action plan recommendations that especially consider their most vulnerable members.​

 

How can my faith community get started?

Extreme Weather ToolkitIf your faith community is in Brampton, Toronto, Burlington, or Hamilton, we encourage you to join our Lighthouse Project as a learning partner to understand more about how to engage with your community to become an extreme weather resilience anchor.

If not, Faith & the Common Good’s Extreme Weather Tool Kit will help your faith group think through the essential components of an extreme weather response plan. 

It provides some great resources to help you engage with municipal and community partners, including sample letters and power point presentation slides.

While the toolkit is tailored for faith groups in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who want to support their most vulnerable community members better withstand extreme weather emergencies, it can easily be adapted to your location and or community organization. 

 

How much will it cost?

The cost of acting as a local extreme weather resilience site was one of the principal concerns for participating faith communities in our 2015 Toronto area pilot. Can we afford to serve vulnerable residents during extreme weather emergencies? What kind of capital and operating costs does this work entail?

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University of Toronto’s Geography & Planning graduate students, with financial support from the City of Toronto’s Environment & Energy Division, helped us look at this question as part of our pilot study.

We have made these cost estimates available to provide a very rough budget guide to the faith groups who are seeking outside funding and program partners to support this work.

The cost estimates are categorized by the level of service participating faith sites sought to offer — from a temporary hot drink, phone-charging station to providing overnight accommodations.

 

Join our shared learning network!

Faith & the Common Good and its collaborative partners across the country are building a community of practice to enhance community resilience to extreme weather.

Want to join our conversations? Send an email to network@faithcommongood.org to be included on our on-going training and shared learning.

Upcoming Events

Togetherness: As the weather gets wildly worse, ensure your survival by learning to love your neighbour
St James Town steering committee
St James Town local "Lighthouse Project" Steering Committee. Toronto, ON

Delighted to share some Toronto West End insights  about our extreme weather resilience hub project. Our Lighthouse Project is piloting how to create inclusive, community-driven extreme weather preparation hubs in Toronto, Hamilton & Brampton.

This excerpt is from Katrina Onstad's “Togetherness: As the weather gets wildly worse, ensure your survival by learning to love your neighbour” (Toronto West End Phoenix, November 2018, www.westendphoenix.com/november-2018-toronto-of-the-future)

Toronto is particularly susceptible to extreme weather disasters simply because it’s booming: the more concrete the city, the hotter the city. The urban heat-island effect is caused by tightly packed buildings and paved surfaces boxing in the heat. And when the rain comes, the lack of green spaces and growing number of impermeable surfaces mean there’s nowhere for water to go but into our ancient, overloaded pipes.

Connecting Care: Building a Network

“The protocol is not very complicated; it's just a matter of making sure the doors are wide open for people to come into our air-conditioned environment, and making sure water is available at all times.” — Matthew Pearce, the CEO of Old Brewery Mission
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/matthew-pearce-heat-wave-homeless-1.4732065

The Lighthouse Project in Hamilton has been building a network of residents and community stakeholders in the interest of preparing neighbours for the impacts of increasing extreme weather events. This network is newly named as Community Resilience to Extreme Weather (CREW) Hamilton.

Oakville Community Foundation Supports Pilot To Enhance Local Resilience to Extreme Weather

Faith & the Common Good, Halton Environmental Network, Greening Sacred Spaces Halton-Peel, and an array of partners will be working together over the next year, thanks to funding received from the Oakville Community Foundation (OCF), to pilot an Oakville neighbourhood extreme weather resilience hub model using places of worship and other neighbourhood organizations as neighbourhood engagement and care anchors.  The goal is to create an Oakville resiliency hub network that engages diverse community stakeholders to increase community capacity and understanding around how we can work to support each other.  The Project plan is to pilot “neighbourhood hubs” in 3 geographic hubs based in the community of Oakville.

View More Blog Posts

Resources

Video: A Journey of Community Resilience: St James Town

Filmmaker Gregory Greene asked Lidia Ferreira if he could make a short video about her work with FCG, CREW, and the Lighthouse Project in Toronto’s St. James Town. Supported by a small grant from Toronto’s Resilience Office he worked with Lidia to identify local issues around climate change adaptation and building community resilience. Then everything changed. A six-alarm electrical fire in one of the St. James Town apartment towers led to a mass evacuation and a host of very difficult challenges for all of its residents. The fire gave Greene his resilience story which is told by a fire survivor, a community leader and a resident activist.

Public Engagement through Existing Faith-Based Organization Network

ICLEIThe Collaborative Implementation Groups (CIG) project targeted 12 municipalities throughout the Great Lakes watershed to identify and implement an adaptation initiative in their community over the period of one year (January 2017 – December 2017). The output of this project was the creation of 12 case studies, which outline the experience of each municipality as they implement their specified initiatives.

One of those municipalities was the City of Brampton, where census data demonstrated that 90% of Brampton citizens had religious affiliations. All major faith groups were represented and made frequent use of 79 registered places of worship across the City. The presence of faith-based communities in Brampton brought to light a new method of sharing information and spreading resilience across vulnerable communities. From this realization, the Lighthouse Project began.

Visit www.icleicanada.org to access the Brampton case study.

CASE STUDY: Strengthening the Role of Faith-Based Organizations to Support Emergency Preparedness (2018, Tamarack Institute)

Tamarack case studyCASE STUDY: Strengthening the Role of Faith-Based Organizations to Support Emergency Preparedness, by Heather Kearn & Sheila Murray, Tamarack Institute Case Study (2018)

Visit www.tamarackcommunity.ca to access the case study.

Resilient Communities Presentation

Resilient CommunitiesNovember 24, 2015
With support from Live Green Toronto , Olive Tree Foundation, Evergreen CityWorks, Wellbeing Toronto, City of Toronto’s Environment & Energy Division, City of Toronto's Office of Emergency Management OEM), and the University of Toronto’s Geography & Planning department, Faith & the Common Good conducted a 2015 proof of concept project to understand how Toronto’s diverse faith communities could be better utilized as local service centers during extreme weather emergencies. This presentation was the culmination of that effort.

Presenters:

  • Moderator: Dave MacLeod
  • Donna Lang, Faith & the Common Good
  • Adam Garcia
  • Adriana Chang, University of Toronto
  • Boris Rosolak, City of Toronto OEM

 Download PDF (2.2 MB)

Presentation: Resilience Hub Costs

Resilience Hub CostsThe cost of acting as a local extreme weather resilience site is one of the principal concerns for faith communities. Can we afford to serve vulnerable residents during extreme weather emergencies? What kind of capital and operating costs does this work entail? University of Toronto's Geography & Planning graduate students helped us look at this question in 2015. The result is this PowerPoint presentation.

 Download PDF (2.6 MB)

Community Resilience to Climate Change podcast

Rabble.ca Resilience podcastApril 3, 2018
Sheila Murray, Beatrice Ekoko, Lidia Ferreira, and Michelle Sullivan all work in some capacity with an initiative called the Lighthouse Project, a pilot that aims to develop new approaches for building resilience in a number of Ontario communities in the face of the growing spectrum of threats presented by climate change. Scott Neigh interviewed them about those threats, about what exactly resilience might look like, and about the different approaches they are using to get there.

Listen to the podcast.

Extreme Weather Toolkit

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This Extreme Weather Tool Kit will help your faith group think through the essential components of an extreme weather response plan. It is tailored for faith groups in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who want to support their most vulnerable community members to better withstand extreme weather emergencies.

 Download PDF (3.5 MB)

Extreme Weather Resilience Case Studies

Solar Case Studies

The Neighbourhood Extreme Weather Resilience pilot project, completed in 2015, explored how Toronto’s diverse faith communities could be better utilized as local service centres to help vulnerable populations during extreme weather emergencies. These case studies give a sense of the potential of this work by providing a snapshot of the action plans and community partner engagement at each of the project’s faith pilot sites.

 Download PDF (4.05 MB)

Contact Us

Project Manager: Sheila Murray

Toronto Resilience Animator: Lidia Ferreira

Brampton Resilience Animator: Michelle Sullivan

Hamilton Animator: Beatrice Ekoko

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