Quebec first to restrict development on flood risk land

Published: May 26, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



The Government of Quebec has taken a decision that could have a wider impact around Canada. The province has started moving residents and their properties away from flood zones.

Remarkably, it is still common in Canada to build homes and neighbourhoods on areas of land with a strong chance of being flooded by lakes and rivers. With flooding become more frequent and insurance companies and governments looking to coverage solutions, there is now a push to stop this illogical practice.

Quebec’s lead could be followed by other provinces in Canada. Under new Quebec provincial law, if a home is condemned due to flooding, it cannot be rebuilt in the same location if there is a chance it would flood again within the next 20 years.

The Quebec government will offer up to $250,000 to relocate to another area once permission to rebuild in the current location has been denied.

Interestingly, while it seems an obvious thing to do, restricting the development of homes on flood risk zones is not something that happens across Canada. Instead, homes are built with three sump pumps to help fend off flood waters.

“If the people in the flood zone try to look for flood insurance, because since March a few insurers in Quebec have started to offer (overland) flood insurance like Desjardins and Intact, probably for those (high risk) people the premium would be so high. A lot of people will do the same thing… say ‘forget it, it’s too expensive, we cannot afford it’,” Suzanne Michaud, VP at CAA-Quebec said.

“So if collectively we decide not to rebuild the houses in flood zones, everybody will be happy. Right now everybody pays for it: the provincial government for the house, the cities when they send people to clean after or protect the house, and so on.”