What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to survive, adapt, and thrive in the face of any challenge. Our job at ResilientTO is to help prepare the people, communities, businesses, and institutions of Toronto to be resilient in the face of key challenges facing our city, through the development of Toronto's first ever Resilience Strategy.

In Toronto, we experience two kinds of challenges: acute, climate-related shocks, which are sudden, sharp events that threaten the immediate well-being of our city; and more chronic stresses, or daily challenges that weaken the fabric of the city and impact its ability to bounce back in response to a shock.

As part of the first phase we of the Resilience Strategy, we undertook a Preliminary Resilience Assessment through extensive stakeholder conservations to identify the specific challenges to resilience that we face in Toronto.


Toronto's Shocks



Water droplette Icon

Flooding

Recent floods in Toronto have overwhelmed the city's storm sewers. Floods in 2013 resulted in almost $1billion dollars in insured damage. Increased flooding could have a negative impact on vulnerable groups that don't have the income to bear the costs associated with unexpected flooding.





Heatwave Icon

Heatwaves

Over the next 20-30 years, Toronto is expected to see a four-fold spike in heatwaves, and a tripling of high temperature days, from an average of 20 in the years 2000-2009 to an average of 66 by 2050.



Snowflake Icon

Blizzards & Cold Snaps

Long-lasting cold spells, severe blizzards, and ice storms, will become increasingly more common in Toronto. The recent ice storm of April 2018, for example, came very late in the season, saw 100 km/hour wind gusts, left almost 20,000 people without power, and caused hundreds of collisions and flight cancellations.



Power Outages Icon

Power Outages

Unexpected interruptions to the city's energy supply will steadily increase with more frequent extreme weather events.




Emergency Preparedness

Toronto, like cities around the world, must be prepared for the shock that will accompany major events such as public health emergencies, cyber failures or attacks, and terrorist attacks.


Toronto's Stresses


Poverty & Inequality

While Toronto has experienced unprecedented growth over the last twenty years, this growth has been accompanied by growing levels of socio-economic inequality. Citywide data tell us that growing levels of inequality are resulting in new and stark spatial divides, while low-income residents feel increasingly alienated from decision-making processes.



Access to Housing

Rapidly eroding housing affordability is a pressing concern for many residents. Increasing rents and housing prices can adversely affect the city's efforts to promote equitable prosperity and social mobility.



Ageing Infrastructure

There is a significant state-of-good repair backlog in Toronto affecting everything from roads and transit to social housing. In addition, many of the more than 1,200 apartment towers built before 1985 are in an advanced state of disrepair.



Getting Around

Increasing traffic congestion combined with overtaxed and underdeveloped transportation systems can adversely impact Torontonians' quality of life, the movement of goods, and the city's development.



Long-Term Municipal Financial Stability

As our city grows, City budgets are becoming increasingly stretched by new demands for infrastructure and program spending.


Neighbourhood Resilience

Toronto is ‘having a moment’. The city sits at or near the top of international rankings for quality of life, safety and tax competitiveness. These rankings are validated by the rate of incoming investment, sustained population growth, and by the fact that the city is an economic anchor for Ontario and Canada. We are growing faster than nearly any comparable city in the world.

Our region is home to a growing economy and is emerging as a global centre for technology and innovation. Toronto lives its motto of “diversity our strength”, with half the population born outside of Canada and half the population identifying as a visible minority. Our experience and success in living together is a global asset.

But, our success and prosperity is not shared by all.

Graphic showing average individual incomes across Toronto

Average Individual Income, City of Toronto, 2015 (www.neighbourhoodchange.ca)
*20% above or below the Toronto CMA average for the stated year


There are significant social and economic disparities that exist in Toronto, primarily between the inner suburbs, where there is a significant concentration of poverty, and more central, transit-friendly neighbourhoods, including the downtown.

There are three and a half times more Torontonians earning less than $20,000 per year than those earning over $100,000 per year.

One-in-four children in Toronto live in low income households. Among Indigenous families, the rate is higher than 80%, and there are three neighbourhoods in Toronto where the rate is higher than 50%.

Slow, infrequent, and unreliable transit options limit access to other parts of the city and make moving around a neighbourhood difficult.

Younger, lower income, non-white, New Canadian, and inner-suburban Torontonians face barriers to participating in city building.

In 2015, the average employment income for men was 47% higher than for women.

Racialized individuals experienced low income at nearly twice the rate of non-racialized individuals.


TowersTall apartment towers surrounded by trees and snow-covered lawns next to a highway

In the city of Toronto, there are roughly 1,200 apartment towers of eight or more storeys that were built before 1985 and house over 500,000 people.

There are 240,700 units in these towers, which represents 45% of Toronto’s total rental housing stock, and 18% of all occupied units in the city. Over 80% are privately owned. These towers house a higher portion of lower-income, visible minority, and new Canadians compared to other housing types. Rents in buildings built before 1990 are 39% lower than those built afterwards, and 4% lower than average market rent for all of Toronto, representing a critical component of Toronto’s affordable market rental stock.

As a group these towers are aging, and some are already in an advanced stage of disrepair. There is a significant opportunity to increase resilience in Toronto by undertaking major retrofits to these towers to make them more sustainable and more livable.

Currently, the City of Toronto’s Tower Renewal Program is focusing on implementing environmental, social, economic, and cultural improvements in Toronto’s towers and surrounding neighbourhoods. The program is delivering site improvement guidance and implementation supports including financing, and enabling change through new zoning that broadly introduces mixed use for the first time in these communities.

In partnership with the Tower Renewal Program, the City is undertaking a Resilient Towers Initiative as part of the Resilience Strategy. This initiative seeks to catalyse and coordinate community investment, strategies for health and safety in a changing climate, and significant retrofits. A key focus will be placed on finance and delivery to make these investments possible.

A map showing the location of pre-1985 apartment towers in relation to Toronto's transit systemBenefits of retrofits include:


Achieving TransformTO’s targets for GHG emissions reductions of 40-80% in each tower.

Improving the quality of the city’s rental housing stock, and dramatically improving the livability of the towers for residents.

Creating thousands of local jobs through a generated investment of billions of dollars into tower neighbourhoods.

Significantly reducing the city’s exposure to the top risks identified through the Resilience Strategy and through the 2017 Hazard and Risk Identification (HiRA).

Improving solid waste management by 25% or more.

Reducing water consumption by 30% or more.


Climate Resilience

Toronto today is more at risk of climate shocks than at any time in the past 50 years.

Toronto is experiencing rapid urbanization; at the same time, the climate is changing, with an increased variability, frequency, and intensity of climate events. People already considered to be vulnerable will be more likely to experience disproportionate negative impacts of climate change.

As part of the Resilience Strategy, the City is developing a Climate Resilience Framework and adaptation plan, outlining actions we can take to improve our climate resilience. A key component of the framework will focus on identifying the synergies between climate adaptation action and the climate mitigation work being undertaken as part of TransformTO.

Flooding

Flooding in July 2013 led to over $1 billion in insurance claims and $70 million in costs to the City.

Flooding in Toronto is consistently raised as a key risk and concern for the City and wider public. Most people remember the recent floods that have occurred in Toronto, and the damage they caused.

Toronto Island Flooding, 2017

Spring 2017 was characterized by record-breaking rainfall in Toronto which, added to snowmelt, raised water levels in Lake Ontario to the highest level since the first reliable measurements of the lake were taken in 1918. The total rainfall from April 1 until May 25 was almost double what is normally seen, with 232 millimeters in 2017 (compared to 125 millimeters on average). The effects of this flooding were felt along the entire length of Toronto’s waterfront, and particularly at Toronto Island Park, where over 800 residents, almost 30 businesses, and two schools were forced to adapt to rising waters.

Toronto flood, July 2013

In July 2013, the city was hit by a major summer storm that dropped between 96.8 and 126 millimetres of rain (as measured at the Toronto islands and Pearson airport respectively) in under two hours, causing significant flooding throughout the city. Over 750,000 lost power, some for over three days, over 4,700 homes were flooded, and 1,400 GO Train commuters were stranded as a result of the flooding at the foot of the Don Valley Parkway. The flooding led to $1 billion in insurance claims and $70 million in costs to the City.

As part of the Resilience Strategy, the City is working to advance an understanding of urban flooding through the development of an Urban Flooding Framework, which will include:


Developing a snapshot of Toronto’s approach to management of urban flooding and an understanding of current urban flooding risks.

Identifying a policy framework to ensure the City is resilient and well positioned across its divisions and agencies to manage future urban flood risks resulting from a changing climate.

Resilience is the ability to survive, adapt, and thrive in the face of any challenge. Our job at ResilientTO is to help prepare the people, communities, businesses, and institutions of Toronto to be resilient in the face of key challenges facing our city, through the development of Toronto's first ever Resilience Strategy.

In Toronto, we experience two kinds of challenges: acute, climate-related shocks, which are sudden, sharp events that threaten the immediate well-being of our city; and more chronic stresses, or daily challenges that weaken the fabric of the city and impact its ability to bounce back in response to a shock.

As part of the first phase we of the Resilience Strategy, we undertook a Preliminary Resilience Assessment through extensive stakeholder conservations to identify the specific challenges to resilience that we face in Toronto.


Toronto's Shocks



Water droplette Icon

Flooding

Recent floods in Toronto have overwhelmed the city's storm sewers. Floods in 2013 resulted in almost $1billion dollars in insured damage. Increased flooding could have a negative impact on vulnerable groups that don't have the income to bear the costs associated with unexpected flooding.





Heatwave Icon

Heatwaves

Over the next 20-30 years, Toronto is expected to see a four-fold spike in heatwaves, and a tripling of high temperature days, from an average of 20 in the years 2000-2009 to an average of 66 by 2050.



Snowflake Icon

Blizzards & Cold Snaps

Long-lasting cold spells, severe blizzards, and ice storms, will become increasingly more common in Toronto. The recent ice storm of April 2018, for example, came very late in the season, saw 100 km/hour wind gusts, left almost 20,000 people without power, and caused hundreds of collisions and flight cancellations.



Power Outages Icon

Power Outages

Unexpected interruptions to the city's energy supply will steadily increase with more frequent extreme weather events.




Emergency Preparedness

Toronto, like cities around the world, must be prepared for the shock that will accompany major events such as public health emergencies, cyber failures or attacks, and terrorist attacks.


Toronto's Stresses


Poverty & Inequality

While Toronto has experienced unprecedented growth over the last twenty years, this growth has been accompanied by growing levels of socio-economic inequality. Citywide data tell us that growing levels of inequality are resulting in new and stark spatial divides, while low-income residents feel increasingly alienated from decision-making processes.



Access to Housing

Rapidly eroding housing affordability is a pressing concern for many residents. Increasing rents and housing prices can adversely affect the city's efforts to promote equitable prosperity and social mobility.



Ageing Infrastructure

There is a significant state-of-good repair backlog in Toronto affecting everything from roads and transit to social housing. In addition, many of the more than 1,200 apartment towers built before 1985 are in an advanced state of disrepair.



Getting Around

Increasing traffic congestion combined with overtaxed and underdeveloped transportation systems can adversely impact Torontonians' quality of life, the movement of goods, and the city's development.



Long-Term Municipal Financial Stability

As our city grows, City budgets are becoming increasingly stretched by new demands for infrastructure and program spending.


Neighbourhood Resilience

Toronto is ‘having a moment’. The city sits at or near the top of international rankings for quality of life, safety and tax competitiveness. These rankings are validated by the rate of incoming investment, sustained population growth, and by the fact that the city is an economic anchor for Ontario and Canada. We are growing faster than nearly any comparable city in the world.

Our region is home to a growing economy and is emerging as a global centre for technology and innovation. Toronto lives its motto of “diversity our strength”, with half the population born outside of Canada and half the population identifying as a visible minority. Our experience and success in living together is a global asset.

But, our success and prosperity is not shared by all.

Graphic showing average individual incomes across Toronto

Average Individual Income, City of Toronto, 2015 (www.neighbourhoodchange.ca)
*20% above or below the Toronto CMA average for the stated year


There are significant social and economic disparities that exist in Toronto, primarily between the inner suburbs, where there is a significant concentration of poverty, and more central, transit-friendly neighbourhoods, including the downtown.

There are three and a half times more Torontonians earning less than $20,000 per year than those earning over $100,000 per year.

One-in-four children in Toronto live in low income households. Among Indigenous families, the rate is higher than 80%, and there are three neighbourhoods in Toronto where the rate is higher than 50%.

Slow, infrequent, and unreliable transit options limit access to other parts of the city and make moving around a neighbourhood difficult.

Younger, lower income, non-white, New Canadian, and inner-suburban Torontonians face barriers to participating in city building.

In 2015, the average employment income for men was 47% higher than for women.

Racialized individuals experienced low income at nearly twice the rate of non-racialized individuals.


TowersTall apartment towers surrounded by trees and snow-covered lawns next to a highway

In the city of Toronto, there are roughly 1,200 apartment towers of eight or more storeys that were built before 1985 and house over 500,000 people.

There are 240,700 units in these towers, which represents 45% of Toronto’s total rental housing stock, and 18% of all occupied units in the city. Over 80% are privately owned. These towers house a higher portion of lower-income, visible minority, and new Canadians compared to other housing types. Rents in buildings built before 1990 are 39% lower than those built afterwards, and 4% lower than average market rent for all of Toronto, representing a critical component of Toronto’s affordable market rental stock.

As a group these towers are aging, and some are already in an advanced stage of disrepair. There is a significant opportunity to increase resilience in Toronto by undertaking major retrofits to these towers to make them more sustainable and more livable.

Currently, the City of Toronto’s Tower Renewal Program is focusing on implementing environmental, social, economic, and cultural improvements in Toronto’s towers and surrounding neighbourhoods. The program is delivering site improvement guidance and implementation supports including financing, and enabling change through new zoning that broadly introduces mixed use for the first time in these communities.

In partnership with the Tower Renewal Program, the City is undertaking a Resilient Towers Initiative as part of the Resilience Strategy. This initiative seeks to catalyse and coordinate community investment, strategies for health and safety in a changing climate, and significant retrofits. A key focus will be placed on finance and delivery to make these investments possible.

A map showing the location of pre-1985 apartment towers in relation to Toronto's transit systemBenefits of retrofits include:


Achieving TransformTO’s targets for GHG emissions reductions of 40-80% in each tower.

Improving the quality of the city’s rental housing stock, and dramatically improving the livability of the towers for residents.

Creating thousands of local jobs through a generated investment of billions of dollars into tower neighbourhoods.

Significantly reducing the city’s exposure to the top risks identified through the Resilience Strategy and through the 2017 Hazard and Risk Identification (HiRA).

Improving solid waste management by 25% or more.

Reducing water consumption by 30% or more.


Climate Resilience

Toronto today is more at risk of climate shocks than at any time in the past 50 years.

Toronto is experiencing rapid urbanization; at the same time, the climate is changing, with an increased variability, frequency, and intensity of climate events. People already considered to be vulnerable will be more likely to experience disproportionate negative impacts of climate change.

As part of the Resilience Strategy, the City is developing a Climate Resilience Framework and adaptation plan, outlining actions we can take to improve our climate resilience. A key component of the framework will focus on identifying the synergies between climate adaptation action and the climate mitigation work being undertaken as part of TransformTO.

Flooding

Flooding in July 2013 led to over $1 billion in insurance claims and $70 million in costs to the City.

Flooding in Toronto is consistently raised as a key risk and concern for the City and wider public. Most people remember the recent floods that have occurred in Toronto, and the damage they caused.

Toronto Island Flooding, 2017

Spring 2017 was characterized by record-breaking rainfall in Toronto which, added to snowmelt, raised water levels in Lake Ontario to the highest level since the first reliable measurements of the lake were taken in 1918. The total rainfall from April 1 until May 25 was almost double what is normally seen, with 232 millimeters in 2017 (compared to 125 millimeters on average). The effects of this flooding were felt along the entire length of Toronto’s waterfront, and particularly at Toronto Island Park, where over 800 residents, almost 30 businesses, and two schools were forced to adapt to rising waters.

Toronto flood, July 2013

In July 2013, the city was hit by a major summer storm that dropped between 96.8 and 126 millimetres of rain (as measured at the Toronto islands and Pearson airport respectively) in under two hours, causing significant flooding throughout the city. Over 750,000 lost power, some for over three days, over 4,700 homes were flooded, and 1,400 GO Train commuters were stranded as a result of the flooding at the foot of the Don Valley Parkway. The flooding led to $1 billion in insurance claims and $70 million in costs to the City.

As part of the Resilience Strategy, the City is working to advance an understanding of urban flooding through the development of an Urban Flooding Framework, which will include:


Developing a snapshot of Toronto’s approach to management of urban flooding and an understanding of current urban flooding risks.

Identifying a policy framework to ensure the City is resilient and well positioned across its divisions and agencies to manage future urban flood risks resulting from a changing climate.