Reducing Flood Risk
A rising sea level and storm surges mean greater risk of flood and erosion for coastal areas in BC. With sea level rise comes the risk of damage to coastal infrastructure, property loss from flood and erosion, habitat destruction, decreased biodiversity, saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers and impacts to cultural and historical sites.
Flood risk is also a critical issue for non-coastal BC regions, due to extreme precipitation and riverine flooding from heavy snowmelt, ice jams and heavy rainfall. Past floods in communities in BC have caused extensive and costly damage to community health, property and critical infrastructure.
The Okanagan Nation Alliance has created a Syilx flood risk assessment for the Okanagan River watershed. In this assessment, the Okanagan Nation Alliance makes note that flooding is a normal part of their local area. Syilx Okanagan Nation had a healthy relationship with flooding due to their keep knowledge of their territory. Policies developed by settlers have tried to control the natural processes of flooding, rather than work with these processes, which has amplified flood risk. It is important to centre the land-based knowledge of First Nations and consider how we can work with natural processes to decrease our climate risk.
Coastal flood adaptation is also being undertaken by the City of Surrey, which recently won a 2020 Award of Merit for Climate Change Planning. Their Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy can be found here.
Flood risk and coastal management is a priority for the BC Regional Adaptation Collaborative. BC RAC has supported the Province of BC and project partners on floodplain mapping, flood mitigation and flood planning to account for the impacts of climate change. Thanks to this investment, there are now proposed guidelines for coastal floodplain mapping, sea dike design and coastal flood construction levels.