A resilient Toronto is a place where every resident can thrive.
The City of Toronto engaged over 8,000 Torontonians in conversations about resilience face to face, over the phone, on social media, at City Hall, in libraries, in parks, and in people’s homes. They told us they want a city where every resident can thrive, where diversity is nurtured and residents have empathy for each other. One where long-term thinking is considered in every decision. One where residents know the history of Indigenous peoples and are committed to taking action for Truth and Reconciliation. One that is efficient, safe and affordable, and led by brave and caring leaders who reflect the communities they serve.
Making Toronto more resilient requires a focus on equity. We know that residents experience resilience differently based on which neighbourhood they live in, and who they are, including in terms of their race, income, and gender. We also know that access to safe and liveable homes and reliable infrastructure is not equitably distributed across the city. For example, apartment towers, where one in three low income families live, are disproportionately vulnerable to extreme heat and power shortages. And we know that vulnerable residents are much less likely to participate in civic processes or see themselves reflected by government. While Toronto is already making exciting strides towards resilient neighbourhoods and infrastructure, more can be done towards realizing resilience across the city.
This Strategy is meant to light a spark – to drive action at the City and from business, academia, non-profit organizations and residents to build a city where everyone can thrive.
This area focuses on supporting residents, businesses, and communities to make Toronto’s neighbourhoods more resilient. It includes a focus on supporting Torontonians at home and in their neighbourhoods. The three goals in this area aim to ensure that:
Toronto has resilient, safe, affordable homes: Torontonians’ resilience to shocks is fundamentally tied to the place they call home. This goal supports owners and renters to make changes to their homes that improve resilience. The goal is also about the relationship between resilience and affordability. For example, a new program of deep retrofits of the city’s apartment towers and units will improve the resilience of and enable nable wide-scale change in this critical housing stock. This includes developing technical guidelines for theretrofits, supporting Provincial and Federal policy changes, and collaborating with industry, NGO, residents associations, and other external partners.
Communities take action to improve resilience in their neighbourhoods: Communities are the front line of defense in any shock. This goal is to build more resilient communities in every neighbourhood across Toronto. Beginning in 2020, a new action will enhancethe capacity of neighbourhoods to prepare for and recover from shocks through grassroots action and network building. A two-year pilot will initiate this neighbourhood resilience planning process in three communities.
Poverty is eliminated and equity is improved: This goal supports a response to immediate needs, the creation of pathways to prosperity, and systemic change through which equity is strengthened in day-to-day decision-making. Actions within this goal seek to prioritizethe implementation and resourcing of the Council-approved Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy. A 20-year plan, the Poverty Reduction Strategy focuses on housing stability, services access, transit equity, food access, the quality of jobs and incomes, and systemic change.
This area focuses on making our shared, human-made and natural infrastructure more resilient, and using that infrastructure for a more resilient Toronto as a whole. The three goals in this area aim to ensure that:
Toronto is more resilient to climate change, including the hazards of flooding and heat: Toronto needs to become more resilient to the shocks and stresses of a changing climate. This goal focuses on the two hazards that pose the greatest and fastest growing risk to residents – flooding and extreme heat. For example, resources will be centralized towards a city-wide flood planning and prioritization tool, which can be used for planning, infrastructure prioritization, utility-based decisions, operations planning and deployment, prioritizing emergency management resources and communicating with the public.
Infrastructure and buildings are resilient to a changing climate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions: This goal aims to ensure that the infrastructure the City owns, maintains and builds is resilient to a changing climate; and that buildings built in Toronto are resilient. Sound investment decisions must consider the long life spans of infrastructure (up to 100 years in some cases). To do so, a new action will integrate resilience into development and land use planning processes. One element of this involves implementing a training program for City Planning staff and Committee of Adjustment members on an ongoing basis on climate resilience, including stormwater management and protection of natural heritage.
Toronto has multiple reliable, affordable and safe mobility options that reduce the amount of time it takes to get around: Throughout consultations with stakeholders and the public, mobility issues were consistently identified as one of the key resilience challenges that people experience in their day-to-day lives. This goal aims to improve access to mobility options and the experience of getting around in Toronto. This includes expanding certain demonstration projects within the city, to move more people more efficiently within the existing rights of way . This initiative builds on the success of actions like the King Street Transit Pilot, which significantly transformed mobility along a downtown corridor at a fraction of the cost of new infrastructure.
This area focuses on the City of Toronto’s role as the leader on resilience for residents, businesses, and partners. It includes changing how the City does business to lead a more resilient city. The four goals in this area aim to ensure that:
Civic engagement and trust in the City improve, and leadership better reflects Toronto’s diversity: This area focuses on the City of Toronto’s role as the leader on resilience for residents, businesses, and partners. It includes changing how the City does business to lead a more resilient city, such as expanding corporate civic engagement supports to improve engagement outcomes. This will increase the coordination role of the City Manager’s Office, making it a larger centre of excellence that promotes best practices and supports high-quality civic engagement across the City.
The City prioritizes the most vulnerable people and highest risk in decision-making:
This goal is about ensuring that the City’s programs and processes include vulnerable groups in decision-making, prioritize programs and projects that support equity-seeking groups, and measure progress in achieving the vision. The City will integrateequity into the its strategic planning processes with the aim of increasing adoption of the City’s Equity Lens tool in action planning and program development processes, in addition to leveraging equity data to foster dialogue among stakeholders and inform decision-making.
Indigenous communities have a leadership role in building resilience: This goal aims to support leaders in this space working to further build the resilience of Indigenous communities in and around Toronto. Broad and deep co-development that brings together diverse perspectives and worldviews is required to develop novel approaches and diverse ways of thinking to address the urgency and complexity of the challenges facing Toronto. In building relationships with Indigenous communities in Toronto around resilience, the City will provide training for its staff on Indigenous cultural competency, and work with Indigenous partners to ensure they benefit from the Resilience Strategy and have opportunities to lead on its implementation.
Institutionalize resilience into the City’s decision-making and take leadership on resilience: To achieve the vision of the Resilience Strategy, City Divisions and organizations across Toronto must ensure that their policies and practices actively increase collective resilience. City Divisions and agencies need to embed resilience into their everyday work and enhance current resilience-building programs. While resilience-thinking exists informally at this level, the goal is to show leadership on resilience by aligning all City programs towards a coordinated approach to planning and investing in the future. To integrate resilience into emergency management, for example, the City’s Resilience Office will support the Office of Emergency Management as it launches a Corporate Business Continuity and Resilience Task Force.