Assessing Canadian Flood Preparedness

Morgan O'Rourke


August 3, 2015

canada flooding preparedness

In 2013, the Canadian province of Alberta experienced the worst floods in its history, resulting in more than $5 billion in property damage and $1.7 billion in insured losses. The catastrophe underscored the risk faced by Canadian cities and the importance of flood preparedness to help prevent future damage. But according to a study commissioned by Canadian insurer The Co-operators and conducted by researchers at the University of Waterloo, not all cities are ready.

The researchers assessed the preparedness of 15 Canadian cities to encourage them to increase their efforts to strengthen flood resilience and create a benchmark to measure their progress. Ottawa received the highest grade with an A-, followed by Winnipeg, Calgary, St. John’s, Toronto and Montreal, which were given grades ranging from B+ to B-.

Overall, the study found that Canadian cities exhibited common strengths with regard to flood preparedness: greater use of residential backwater valves, the development of updated flood plain maps and strategic land use planning efforts, and increased urban drainage maintenance programs.

Challenges remain, however, including ensuring the continued operation of banking and financial services and protecting the supply of essential goods such as food, petroleum and electricity.

Morgan O’Rourke is editor in chief of Risk Management and director of publications for the Risk & Insurance Management Society, Inc. (RIMS)