Update: Paying for Urban Infrastructure in Canada

This 2019 report updates and supplements ACT’s 2015 report Paying for Urban Infrastructure Adaptation in Canada.

Municipalities own nearly 60% of Canada’s core infrastructure, including roads, water and wastewater systems, and utility services. They therefore have great influence over both the extent to which climate change adaptation takes place, and how it is done. But while municipalities are well positioned for action, much of Canada’s physical infrastructure is in need of upgrade or replacement, and climate change will add pressures for infrastructure to be rebuilt or upgraded with additional capacity and resilience to withstand future climate conditions. It is therefore vital that local governments take advantage of the tools available to generate revenue to pay for infrastructure adaptation, and seize opportunities that encourage neighbourhood, building, and property-level practices that increase resilience and reduce the need for public investment in infrastructure adaptation over time.

This report serves to update and supplement ACT’s 2015 report Paying for Urban Infrastructure Adaptation in Canada: An Analysis of Existing and Potential Economic Instruments for Local Governments. Since 2015, as the need for adaptation to the current and projected impacts of climate change has become more evident, governments at all levels across Canada have made greater use of tools to fund and finance infrastructure adaptation. For example, since 2015 several tools have emerged in Canada with the potential to leverage private financing to support infrastructure adaptation.

This report provides descriptions and examples of new and emerging tools, as well as existing tools that have experienced recent uptake in Canadian communities. This report also highlights opportunities and examples of tools that have the potential to support the integration of adaptation and mitigation, known as low carbon resilience.