New study ranks Canadian cities for flood preparedness

Published: May 25, 2015

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Callum Micucci

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A new study that ranks the ability of 15 major Canadian cities to mitigate flood damage has placed Ottawa at the top of the list and Halifax at the bottom.

The study, written by Dr. Blair Feltmate from the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo and commissioned by The Co-operators, evaluates cities based on sixteen areas of flood vulnerability and ranked cities on a scale from A (higher preparation) to E (lower preparation). See below for the rankings.

The study ranked the cities based on 16 factors like flood plain mapping, backwater valve installation, electricity supply, petroleum supply, transportation systems, and telecommunications systems (among others).

Floods are by far the most prevalent natural disaster in our country: according to Environment Canada, severe weather events that used to happen once every 40 years can now be expected to happen every six years.

Beginning in May, Aviva Canada was the first Canadian insurance company to offer overland water protection for customers in Ontario and Alberta.

“Tens of thousands of Canadians have suffered losses from water damage in recent years,” said Aviva Canada president Sharon Ludlow in the February announcement.

“We’re proud to be the first insurer to offer overland water protection through our home insurance policies.”

The study is part of a series that looks at the viability of overland flood insurance protection in Canada, and it found that most Canadian cities mandate backwater valves in new homes, noting that this is “an effective step to prevent water from entering a house through the basement drain when sewer systems are overwhelmed during a storm.”

Another strength cited by the study is cities’ development of up-to-date flood plain maps, “which most cities have undertaken to predict the extent of storm-related flood damage.”

The first study, published in 2013, surveyed top executives in the Canadian insurance industry to assess the viability of overland flood coverage in the country. A year later, the second study “examined priorities for advancing flood resiliency, which were identified by the multi-stakeholder Partners for Action roundtable.”

  1. Ottawa: A-
  2. Winnipeg: B+
  3. Calgary: B
  4. St. John’s: B
  5. Toronto: B-
  6. Montreal: B-
  7. Mississauga: C+
  8. Edmonton: C
  9. Fredericton: C
  10. Whitehorse: C
  11. Charlottetown: C-
  12. Quebec City: C-
  13. Regina: C-
  14. Vancouver: C-
  15. Halifax: D