Sourced from The Globe and Mail
An ancient river channel that cuts through downtown Calgary is now plugged with concrete. Edmonton’s city-owned utility is ranking drainage basins by risk. Key roads in Fredericton have been elevated to guard against the next deluge.
Cities and utility providers across Canada are girding for a wetter future as rising global temperatures supercharge storms and lead to more frequent and severe flooding.
The preparation, while not entirely new, has gained urgency amid a push by major insurers, bond-rating agencies and governments to reduce the mounting financial and social costs tied to extreme weather. It aligns with an emerging consensus that worldwide efforts to curb emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases are likely to fall short of targets, necessitating costly retrofits of infrastructure to cope with the worsening effects of climate change.
“We have a growing adaptation deficit in Canada, and we’ve got to reverse that trend,” said Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo.
A new report from the think tank pegs flooding in major urban centres as Canada’s costliest and fastest-growing extreme-weather challenge, with implications for everything from residential insurance premiums to municipal credit ratings.
It cites data from the Insurance Bureau of Canada that show payouts for catastrophic losses jumped from an average $405-million a year between 1983 and 2008 to a yearly average of $1.8-billion since 2009, with flooding accounting for more than half of the increase.