Fire Fighting in Canada

Uncategorized Emergency Management
Building projects must be ‘resilient and responsive to changing climatic conditions,’ says Housing CEO

May 21, 2024 
By The Canadian Press

Climate change is already creating many challenges in the NWT, and the territory’s housing authority is finding ways to construct homes that are resistant to those problems.

“Housing NWT ensures that its projects are resilient and responsive to changing climatic conditions,” said Housing NWT president and CEO Eleanor Young. “Building design, construction and ongoing operation and maintenance must consider the environment as well as the capacity within the community to build and operate specific building approaches and designs.”

One of the biggest impacts of climate change is the increased risk of forest fires, brought on by drought conditions and rising temperatures. Last summer, many homes were destroyed by the wildfires that raged across the territory.

Building homes that are more resistant to fire is a major concern, according to Young — one that involves “the selection of appropriate building materials” like metal roofing and siding, and “detailing which includes non-combustible materials and guarded penetrations.”


Degrading permafrost is also a risk for homes in the territory. To combat this issue, Housing NWT has been consulting with “geotechnical engineers and other specialists to ensure foundations and structural systems are resistant to the deleterious effects of permafrost thaw.”

The housing authority is also working on specialized “architectural detailing” to ensure buildings are “adapted to increased wind, snow and rain exposure.”

Rising summer temperatures are another concern that necessitates “building ventilation to avoid overheating,” Young added.

Building homes in the NWT has always been challenging thanks to the remoteness of many communities in the territory and the high costs of shipping goods to those communities. Climate change has compounded those problems by hampering the creation of crucial ice roads in the winter, and impacting the water levels in the Mackenzie River, which has long been a shipping thoroughfare.

“Materials or modular components required to construct housing in the NWT must travel long distances on an increasingly vulnerable transportation network which involves a mix of all-season roads with various weight limitations and closures, [as well as] winter roads, ice crossings, ferries, and barges,” said Young. “Once the material is in a community, another challenge is the contracted construction season, which is short and increasingly shortened by climatic disruptions, including flooding and wildfire evacuations or smoke.”

Speaking in the legislative assembly on Feb. 8, Housing Minister Lucy Kuptana confirmed that the department is looking for ways to adapt to changing conditions.

“Housing NWT considers climate resiliency in design to ensure appropriate foundation systems and low maintenance climate durable materials are chosen, as well as maximizing energy efficiency to reduce operating costs over the service life of housing units,” she said. “Housing NWT continues to closely monitor the cost of construction and is implementing mitigation measures where possible by looking at innovative and creative solutions to address the many challenges of building and maintaining homes in our environment.”

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