How Bad is Ontario’s Flood Problem? Depends Where You Live

Sourced from TVO

Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of weather events in Ontario — and how they’ll affect you will depend in large part on where you live.

Heavy rain and flooding aren’t new, but the increased incidence of such events is, and that’s due in part to a warming climate caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases. And as climate change accelerates, such destructive rain events — and other weather-related disasters like ice storms, heat waves, and wildfires — will occur more frequently.

The data confirms that that’s already begun. Figures from the Insurance Bureau of Canada show a dramatic upward trend in insurable losses due to catastrophic events. Between 1983 and 2008, there were only two years (1998 and 2005) when losses totalled more than $1 billion in 2016 dollars; from 2009 to 2017, only one year (2015) saw less than $1 billion in losses.

The spring and summer of 2017 saw flooding across the province, from Windsor to London to Thunder Bay. And in February 2018, powerful rainstorms and an early thaw caused large-scale flooding in London, Brantford, and elsewhere.

While the reasons for the flooding are multifaceted and vary across regions, in all cases a contributing factor was torrential (and in many of the 2017 cases, record-breaking) rainfall that swelled lakes and rivers and swamped drainage systems. In some places, municipal resources were equally overwhelmed.

Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo says bluntly, “It's now become obvious to pretty much any sentient being that climate change is real. We're seeing the expression of extreme weather events, and we've got to have to start doing what we can to get risk out of the system.”

So who owns that risk?

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