Places of Faith = Extreme Weather Resilience Hubs

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. heat, storms, flooding).

With support in 2015 from Live Green Toronto , Olive Tree Foundation, Evergreen CityWorks, Wellbeing Toronto, City of Toronto’s Environment & Energy Division, and the University of Toronto’s Geography & Planning department, we conducted a 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.

The following tools were developed as part of this work to help other faith groups consider how to enhance climate resilience in their own backyards.  While these tools were tailored for faith communities in the greater Toronto area, we encourage you to adapt them to your own local needs.

How can my faith community get started?

  • Faith & the Common Good’s Extreme Weather Tool Kit will help your faith group think through the essentExtreme_Toolkit_GTAial 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 better withstand extreme weather emergencies.
  • Of course, there is no one size fits all faith-based climate response strategy.  Check out our extreme weather resilience case studies to get a sense of how diverse faith communities in the GTA are working to develop climate adaptation plans according to their own mission, capacity, and community needs. 

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.

Building Neighborhood Engagement

  • As illustrated in our case studies, an effective neighborhood climate adaptation plan requires diverse partnerships across the community.  No one can do this work in isolation.
  • Our Extreme Weather Toolkit provides some great resources to help you engage with municipal and community partners, including sample letters and power point presentation slides.
  • The following video provides a glimpse of one of the early community engagement workshops that was held as part of our Toronto pilot.

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.  Can we afford to serve vulnerable residents during extreme weather emergencies?  What kind of capital and operating costs does this work entail? Resileince cost
  • 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 network!

  • Together we are building a vital community of practice to enhance community resilience to extreme weather.