A study released on May 21 found that a majority of Canadian cities are not adequately prepared for flooding. The study, which was commissioned by The Co-Operators and written by Blair Feltmate from the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment, assessed 15 major Canadian cities. The report aims to motivate the cities to increase efforts to build resilience against flooding, and to provide a benchmark against which their progress can be measured.
Researchers examined the cities’ preparedness for flooding caused by extreme rainfall, relative to 16 areas of flood vulnerability. It identified four key areas of strength and several outstanding challenges facing municipalities.
Relative to strengths, the study found that most Canadian cities mandate the installation of backwater valves for new home construction. This is an effective step to prevent water from entering a house through the basement drain when sewer systems are overwhelmed during a storm. Another area of strength was the development of up-to-date flood plain maps, which most cities have undertaken to predict the extent of storm-related flood coverage. Similarly, in most cities, land use planners are using the maps to restrict building in flood prone areas. Urban drainage maintenance was also on the rise, as municipalities strive to keep culverts, grates and storm sewer systems clear in anticipation of flooding.
“Flooding is by far the most common type of natural disaster in Canada, and there is a wide range of actions that can be taken to build a city’s resilience to its destructive force,” said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators.
In addition to the four areas of strength mentioned above, the study examined a number of issues including electricity and petroleum supply, food and water, telecommunications systems, transportation, banking and financial services, and emergency responders, among others.
The cities’ overall scores for flood preparedness are:
1. Ottawa A- 9. Fredericton C
2. Winnipeg B+ 10. Whitehorse C
3. Calgary B 11. Charlottetown C-
4. St. John’s B 12. Quebec City C-
5. Toronto B- 13. Regina C-
6. Montreal B- 14. Vancouver C-
7. Mississauga C+ 15. Halifax D
8. Edmonton C