With smart choices and well-targeted investments, our infrastructure can be adapted to tomorrow’s climate to maintain the reliability and continuity of services. In this regard, we must be proactive in order to reduce the risk of damage, lower maintenance and repair costs, boost infrastructure safety and public security, and mitigate inequalities. To do so, any number of actions can be taken.
Climate change must be considered starting with the infrastructure’s design phase, throughout construction and beyond, including maintenance, demolition or replacement. Another means of increasing infrastructure resilience is to adapt national and provincial standards as well as codes for design criteria and construction techniques. Evidently, this implies that current practices must change. All practices related to infrastructure design, siting, construction, operation, management, maintenance and repair should also be reviewed as a function of the impacts of climate change.
A number of concrete adaptation solutions can be employed to better design engineering works in Quebec. For example, the use of asphalt types that show superior resistance to freeze-thaw cycles reduces the formation of potholes in the road network. Intense precipitation in urban environments can be better managed through the use of alternative construction techniques, combining for example larger conduits and the installation of bioretention ponds.
In terms of infrastructure maintenance, it is also preferable to act in a preventive rather than a reactive manner to anticipate failures and service interruptions. For example, to mitigate the impacts of melting permafrost in Nunavik, modernizing and upgrading certain infrastructure (e.g. buildings, runways, etc.) would help postpone or reduce costs and damage while ensuring the continuity of essential services for local residents.
Lastly, interventions that foster the complementarity of more traditional design methods and nature-based solutions are proving highly effective in adapting to climate change. For example, expanding green spaces and water bodies, landscaping streets and alleys, and installing green rooftops can all help mitigate runoff in urban environments and reduce the pressure on rainwater management infrastructure. Urban greening initiatives also address issues triggered by increasingly frequent heat waves and are complementary to eco-building strategies to improve indoor thermal comfort.
Photo : Saint-Maurice Street, City of Trois-Rivières