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Ontario First Nations test toolkit to protect infrastructure against climate change

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne has been one of three Ontario First Nations testing the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee Toolkit for the protection of infrastructure such as a water intake pump station. Photo Credit: Stantec

Ontario First Nations leaders will now have access to an information toolkit that allows them to assess climate change risks to their critical infrastructure, as well as plan for expanded maintenance, repairs and replacement.

Known as the First Nations Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee Toolkit, it comes courtesy of The Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation (OFNTSC) in conjunction with Engineers Canada and Stantec. Three First Nations in Ontario — Mohawks of Akwesasne, Oneida Nation of the Thames, and Moose Cree First Nation of Moose Factory— have tested the kit to ensure its viability for future use.

“The effects that climate change is having on the world are undeniable,” announced Melanie Debassige, executive director of the OFNTSC, in a statement to media. “For First Nations, this means a fundamental shift in the way that infrastructure is maintained and operated to mitigate the risks of a changing climate,” she added.

The new toolkit incorporates data from two databases, including Indigenous Services Canada’s Asset Condition Reporting System, and Integrated Capital Management System. The toolkit also makes accommodations for traditional and local knowledge in the data gathering process.

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To date, three workshops on the toolkit have been delivered to First Nations and Tribal Councils. The workshops taught a basic understanding of asset management principles, explored how climate and climate change projection impacts community infrastructure, and demonstrated hands-on applications to conduct climate change risk assessments.

Stantec senior associate Guy Félio is an infrastructure management specialist who has worked with First Nations in Ontario for a decade.

“Many of these communities are working with a skeleton infrastructure — especially in northern Canada — which makes the need for a robust tool even more pressing,” Félio wrote in a recent blog post for Stantec. “ Plus, the original [Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee] protocol is relatively complex, and it relies on some data that may not exist in First Nation communities. We needed to streamline it to make it simpler,” Félio added.

Félio stated that interest has even been shown in the new toolkit by First Nation groups outside of Ontario.

In 2005, Natural Resources Canada asked Engineers Canada to develop a framework that could assess the vulnerability of Canada’s infrastructure to the impacts of climate change. Two years later, the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee released the tool—known as the PIEVC Protocol—and started conducting assessments. Since then, the tool has been applied over 50 times in Canada and three times in Central America.

Watch a video explaining the PIEVC Protocol here.

The new First Nations toolkit is an adaptation of the PIEVC Protocol that was funded in part by the Government of Canada and Ontario.

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