Adaptation and Extreme Events at the Local Level
Edited by E. Carina H. Keskitalo
Chapter 4: A history of flood management strategies in Canada revisited
Flooding remains a significant public policy matter in Canada. Since 1996, there have been a number of catastrophic events that have gained considerable media attention and inflicted significant damages on communities (Table 4.1). Public Safety Canada’s Canadian Disaster Database indicates that between 1998 and 2012, 82 flood events occurred that caused six fatalities, over $1.744 billion in direct damages, and the evacuation of almost 45,000 people (Public Safety Canada nd1). The relatively few deaths that have occurred and high number of people safely evacuated from flooded buildings and lands reflects the success of flood management strategies of the past, and the contributions of contemporary emergency management personnel and systems. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (2011) predicted that the total costs associated with climate change in Canada could rise from $5 billion in 2020 to between $21 billion and $34 billion per year in 2050, depending on greenhouse gas emissions, population growth and economic growth.However, Canadians must not be complacent. The direct and indirect financial damages are very large, and the social and emotional costs very significant. The trend in increasing flood damage in Canada and elsewhere reflects a varying mix of more people occupying flood-prone areas, increasing levels of wealth in some areas, and an increase in extreme weather events. Over 64 per cent of Canada’s population lives in communities of 100,000 people or more (Clean Air Partnership 2007). The clear majority of Canada’s villages, towns and cities are flood-prone because they are situated along rivers and streams, or coastal areas.
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