With jurisdictions across Canada all pushing for flood plain maps to be updated, a researcher from the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo has warned that the national flood risk will continue to increase over time.
Dr. Blair Feltman, who serves as head of the Intact Centre, noted that many parts of Canada are still relying on flood maps that are decades out of date and do not reflect the reality of flood risk exacerbated by climate change.
“Flood risk in Canada is only going to increase going forward for the vast majority of the country,” Feltman told 650 CKOM in an interview.
Feltmate stressed that climate change is irreversible and is “here to stay,” adding that even if humanity manages to reduce carbon emissions, it would only slow down the effects of warming rather than reversing the inevitable.
The university professor and head researcher added that the insurance industry has already begun considering climate change in their pricing schemes.
“Over the course of the last five years in Canada, insurance premiums for homes have increased about 20 to 25%, 15% of which is attributable to flooding.”
Feltmate anticipates that with the release of updated flood maps online over the next few years, some homeowners might be in for a rude awakening.
“I think one of the ramifications will be that many people will be surprised to find that their house or community is in an area of high flood risk,” he said.
The expert estimates that about 5% to 7% homes are likely to be at such high risk that they would be difficult to insure; for those cases, Feltmate has suggested that the homeowners consider a “strategic retreat” and move out of the area.
Despite the bleak outlook on the future of flood, Feltmate believes that there is hope for those who can mitigate flood damage to their homes.
“It’s not necessarily bad news that your house may be in a flood risk zone if you’ve taken the appropriate measures, particularly at the level of the house,” he said, pointing out that there are many inexpensive ways to protect homes from water damage.