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  • Climate change and the preparedness of Canadian provinces and territories to limit flood risk

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Climate change and the preparedness of Canadian provinces and territories to limit flood risk

Source(s):  University of Waterloo (UW)

The flood preparedness of provinces and territories was evaluated relative to nine and seven criteria, respectively, that addressed such topics as:

  • The state of readiness of Canada’s flood plain maps;
  • Land use planning relative to flood risk;
  • Efforts to retain natural infrastructure;
  • Flood safety and preparedness of critical infrastructure, and;
  • Public health and emergency management capacity to limit flood risk. 

For each interview and area examined, provinces and territories were assessed on a quantitative five-point scale, which ranged from ‘A’ for the highest state of flood preparedness, to ‘E’ for the least prepared.

Key highlights of the study include:

  • Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Yukon declared that they have incorporated the impacts of climate change into their floodplain mapping initiatives, while British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan only collaborate with local governments and agencies regarding the incorporation of climate change into floodplain maps.
  • Provinces and territories reported significant strengths in emergency management, particularly related to maintaining flood forecasting and alert warning systems during flood events.
  • Provinces and territories showed diligence in sustainable flood management regarding the effort to retain natural infrastructure, such as wetlands, within new community developments.
  • Provinces and territories indicated limited involvement to mitigate flood risk applied to the integrity of critical infrastructure, including electrical systems, telecommunication systems, highway infrastructure, the integrity of pipelines, and water supply/wastewater treatment.
  • Provinces and territories received relatively low scores in land use planning, reflecting the need to limit new development within floodplains, and/or to deploy existing adaptation standards to limit flood risk in vulnerable locations.
  • For all provinces and territories, particularly in light of a changing climate, there is both a need and opportunity to review system interdependencies (e.g., electricity generation, fuel supply, telecommunications services, etc.) to avoid cascading system failures.

Of the primary sources of flooding across Canada (i.e., riverine, urban, coastal, ice jams, groundwater), only riverine mapping has been developed by all provinces for some portion of their jurisdiction.  For all other flood sources – that prove increasingly challenging against the backdrop of climate change – the report identified that mapping efforts remain either underdeveloped, incomplete, or non-existent.

Overall, the study revealed that understanding of flood risk mitigation across Canada is high.  Canadian provinces and territories must now double-down on the deployment of adaptation practices to ensure that the 2024 national grade on flood preparedness becomes an A.

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  • Climate change and the preparedness of Canadian provinces and territories to limit flood risk
  • Publication date 2020
  • Author(s) Dr. Feltmate, Blair; Moudrak, Marina; Bakos, Kathryn
  • Number of pages 97 p.

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