Climate Change and the Preparedness of 16 Major Canadian Cities to Limit Flood Risk

A new report by Dr. Blair Feltmate and Marina Moudrak examines the flood preparedness of 16 major Canadian cites in order to help alleviate flood- and climate-related risks in Canada

Waterloo, ON (Feb. 16, 2021) – Each year, severe weather events including floods, wildfires, windstorms, droughts, hail and destructive thunderstorms, pose a serious risk to cities across Canada. These events are growing in frequency and intensity, causing an impact in terms of insurance claims, economic losses, mental/psycho-social stress, and in some cases, fatalities. Although each city faces a unique combination of climate change related challenges, flooding has become the most widespread and costly natural disaster across Canada.

In Canada, flood management is the responsibility of the provinces and territories, however, this responsibility is often legislatively delegated to municipal goverments. Therefore, flood management activities including mapping, planning, preparation, response and recovery are typically executed at the local rather than at the provincial, territorial, or federal level. As such – and as a complement to the earlier report Climate Change and the Preparedness of Canadian Provinces and Territories to Limit Flood Risks, that addressed the preparedness of provincial and territorial governments to address flood risk – this report instead focuses on how the municipal governments of 16 major Canadian cities selfassess their efforts to reduce the severity of flood impacts on their jurisdictions and citizens.

The purpose of this report is to quantify the state of flood preparedness of 16 major Canadian cities, and in so doing provide guidance that may alleviate current and future flood risk. As of 2019, according to Statistics Canada, 88% of all Canadians live in municipalities with populations of 5,000 or greater, while slightly over half of Canadians (55%) live in cities with a population of 100,000+. As such, the importance of flood preparedness to the economic, social and environmental well-being of Canadian cities, and Canada, cannot be overstated.

Although the risks to which individual cities are exposed are diverse in nature, flooding remains one of the costliest perils for communities across Canada, thus rendering it the subject of this report. Subjected to increasing demand for infill development, city governments face increasing pressures to grant development permits within flood-prone areas. This trend, along with changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme flood events, is increasing the risk of significant disruptions to economic activity, physical damage to residential and commercial properties, and losses of critical infrastructure and essential services, while also posing a threat to the health and well-being of city populations.

Read more – access the full report:

About Intact Financial Corporation

Intact Financial Corporation (TSX: IFC) is the largest provider of property and casualty (P&C) insurance in Canada and a leading provider of specialty insurance in North America, with close to $10 billion in total annual premiums. The Company has over 13,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than five million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada and the U.S. In Canada, Intact distributes insurance under the Intact Insurance brand through a wide network of brokers, including its wholly-owned subsidiary BrokerLink, and directly to consumers through belairdirect. In the U.S., OneBeacon Insurance Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary, provides specialty insurance products through independent agencies, brokers, wholesalers and managing general agencies. For more information, visit

The Intact Centre for Climate Adaptation (ICCA) was developed after five years of research and discussions with the University of Waterloo. The ICCA is a national applied research centre focused on bringing practical and cost-effective solutions to address climate change and extreme weather events. Every Canadian has felt the effects of climate change in recent years. The ICCA serves as an incubator to promote new ideas on how we, as a country, can adapt to the ever-changing weather.

About the University of Waterloo

University of Waterloo is one of Canada’s top innovation universities. With more than 36,000 students and the world’s largest co-operative education system of its kind, its unmatched entrepreneurial culture, combined with an intensive focus on research, powers one of the top innovation hubs in the world. For more information about Waterloo, please visit

SOURCE: Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo

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