Canadians don’t understand flood risk - Expert

Professor speaks about a national flood risk communication strategy

Canadians don’t understand flood risk - Expert

Catastrophe & Flood

By Will Koblensky

When it comes to flood risk prevention in Canada, it’s about asking the right questions.

Researchers and academics like Shawna Peddle, the director of Partners for Action and Adjunct Professor at the University of Waterloo, are the people asking them.

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“People don’t understand what their flood risk is. And if they don’t know what their flood risk is, why would you do anything about it?” Peddle asked. “Why would you protect your home? Or buy flood insurance? Or support government policy on flood risk management?

“Getting people to understand what their risk is, and if they’re even at risk, is the first step in reducing those events because then they know they need in an insurance product, or they know they need to install a sump pump, or they need to put in a rain garden to start treating water as it falls so it’s not going into our sewer systems and causing havoc.”

Peddle is speaking at the 2017 Flood Risk Summit with Barbara Turley‐McIntyre, The Co‐operators’ vice president of sustainability and citizenship about effective partnerships on flood risk.

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The organization Peddle heads, Partners for Action, is a University of Waterloo faculty group advocating for a flood risk aware Canada, better public policy and which has founding partners in the form of The Co-operators and Farm Mutual Re.

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This year’s new federal rules for floodplain maps, the first federal input since 1996, was lauded by Peddle who said she’s optimistic about the future of flood risk in Canada.

“The new flood risk guidelines that have come out are a standardization of risk. So it’s an understanding of what the hazard maps should look like. It’s the baseline, so what happens in B.C., what happens in Ontario, what happens in Newfoundland is now standardized,” Peddle said.

“We’re working now (Partners For Action) on a national communications strategy on flood risk. We’re inviting partners to come and talk with us. Because if we’re talking with one voice and one message, governments, the insurance, academia, non-governmental organizations, if we all come together in one place, then we’re not giving confusing messages. We can pool our resources and create a strategy that actually works.”     

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