Canadians will lose homes to rising seas, and insurance can’t help

Published: November 13, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



Flooding is increasing across Canada and million of homes are in the path of flood water. Insurance costs can be astronomical which is why homeowners are encouraged to purchase a flood policy. These solutions have become more common in Canada in recent year, but unfortunately, they do not cover coastal flooding.

That is not good news for the many people who own properties on coastal urban waterfronts. These locations are hugely popular for developers, despite being located on high-risk flood land. New interactive maps show how much these locations will be affected by even the best-case scenarios for global warming.

Without needing to get into detail, in the coming decades many communities on the coast will be lost to rising sea water. A fight is on to protect these communities, but it may be futile. Homeowners will lose their properties and there are currently no insurance paths to protect them.

John Clague, an earth sciences professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, says global warming will push oceans 3.3 millimetres high every year. While this seems small, it is massive, an increase from 2mm through the late 20th century. Additionally, the United Nations predicts oceans will be at least one metre higher by the end of this century.

“I call it a disaster in slow-mo,” said Clague. “It is really a huge problem. It’s a global problem and the cost of dealing with this or not dealing with it, depending on what happens, is enormous.”

The U.S.-based organization Climate Central has created interactive maps ( that highlight how Canadian cities will be impacted by rising seas and how these cities will look by 2100. The maps show the best-case scenario and illustrate how entire communities will be lost. It is worth noting that the maps do not take into account future mitigation infrastructure.

“Metro Vancouver is the most vulnerable urban area in Canada to sea level rise,” Clague said. “We have about 250,000 people living within about a metre of mean sea level.”