Climate change prompts Hamilton to modify its heat bylaw for apartments

Average temperatures in Hamilton have gone up 2 C from 1981 to 2010. The new bylaw will dictate landlords provide heat eight months of the year instead of nine.

Average temperatures in Hamilton have gone up 2 C from 1981 to 2010

The city is poised to shave a month off the time landlords must provide heat because climate change has made the hot weather start sooner and last longer. The final vote comes this week. (Chris Seto/CBC)

Climate change is inspiring the city of Hamilton to shave a month off its bylaw dictating when landlords have to provide heat to their tenants.

Right now, the city bylaw says landlords must have the heat on from Aug. 31 to June 1. The minimum temperature in the unit must be 20 C.

But springs are getting warmer, and summer is getting longer, city staff say. Environment Canada data shows average monthly temperatures for Hamilton have increased 2 C from 1981 to 2010.

If councillors approve it this week, the "adequate heat bylaw" will now dictate that the heat must be on from Sept. 15 to May 15. That would reduce the length of time heat is required for rental properties from nine to eight months.

The idea came from Tom Jackson, Ward 6 councillor, who says he's been getting complaints from people in seniors buildings.

Children play as they cool down in a fountain beside the Manzanares river in Madrid, Spain in June 2015. Earth's fever got worse last year, breaking dozens of climate records, 450 international scientists diagnosed in a massive report nicknamed the annual physical for the planet. (Andres Kudacki/Associated Press)

"As you know, seniors can be very sensitive to extreme heat or cold," he said. And lately, many of them want the air conditioning on in September, not the heat.

"Warmer springs are happening earlier and warmer falls last longer," he said. Now "instead of three months of having air conditioning, four will be available."

City council's planning committee voted for the change Tuesday. City council will vote to ratify it on Friday. 

An estimated 35,000 walruses are pictured are pictured hauled out on a beach near the village of Point Lay, Alaska. Scientists say his kind of grouping of Pacific walruses - one of the largest ever - was prompted by a lack of sea ice which the walruses use to rest in Arctic waters. (Corey Accardo/Reuters)

Governments worldwide are grappling with the impacts of climate change in various ways. In 2015, the earth shattered numerous heat records, a U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report showed. It was the hottest year in 136 years of record keeping. 

Such temperatures have contributed to an increase in heat waves and other major weather events, the report shows. That includes typhoons and hurricanes. It's also dealt a major blow to coral reefs and marine life.

samantha.craggs@cbc.ca | @SamCraggsCBC

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