ICLR calls for federal program to buy homes in flood risk areas

Published: April 25, 2019

Updated: June 3, 2019

Author: Luke Jones

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Spring floods affecting Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick have once again put a spotlight on the location of houses on at risk land in Canada. The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) says the federal government must step in and take action.

Warming spring weather has caused significant snowmelt in communities across Canada, while heavy rain has contributed to create heavy floods in three provinces. ICLR believes the government should consider a program for relocating residents who live on areas deemed as flood plains.

There are areas where flooding is inevitable if conditions align, with many homes deemed at high-risk. ICLR director Glenn McGillivray says the federal government can approach the problem from three angles:

• Pay a lump sum to have residents removed from these high-risk locations
• Continue to pump money into flood mitigation infrastructure that will need to be updated eventually
• Keep handing out money to help flood victims each time an event occurs

McGillivray says the cash upfront for relocation would be the best option and would be significantly less than the other options.

“It’s basic risk management,” the director explained in an interview with 1310 NEWS. “The first rule of risk management is to remove the risk or remove the victim from the risk, so this is pretty basic stuff.”

He adds a federal program to buy residents out from their flood-plain properties has to come with a stipulation. Specifically, if a homeowner refuses to be bought out, they are making a choice. That choice should mean they are cut off from any government assistance when floods happen.

“We have to be fierce on this because the future is going to mean more and bigger floods,” he warned.