The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and other partners are collaborating on a national flood program to be led by the private sector.
The new flood maps and supporting data, developed in partnership with LexisNexis Risk Solutions, JBA Risk Management, DMTI Spatial and Brookfield RPS, will use the latest technology, local climate data and geospatial data, and will cover the entire country. They will clearly identify the cities and regions at risk of flooding, and the associated economic costs, as well as, the resilient areas and regions in Canada, the IBC said in a press release.
LexisNexis Risk Solutions, a provider of data, analytics and technology to help organizations predict and manage risk, said in a statement that the IBC has selected the company as the lead vendor to manage its national flood program initiative.
Working closely with IBC, LexisNexis Risk Solutions will lead the development of a new set of flood hazard maps and property-level exposure data, leveraging LexisNexis Map View, its risk assessment and exposure management technology, the company said in the statement. Map View will enable IBC to perform advanced analytics and reporting against millions of data points quickly and efficiently. IBC will be able to clearly identify the number of properties at risk of flooding and the associated economic losses for virtually any geography in Canada, the statement noted.
A key component of this initiative is the creation of all new pluvial and fluvial flood maps for Canada, LexisNexus Risk Solutions said. These new models, produced by LexisNexis partner, JBA Risk Management, fully leverage local river, rainfall, snowmelt and higher resolution Digital Terrain Model datasets, resulting in completely updated river flow and rainfall estimates based upon a much more detailed hydrological study where snowmelt is now explicitly modelled, the company explained. “The resulting maps will represent the most comprehensive and detailed set of Canadian flood maps, reflecting the uniqueness of the local environment and greatly improving risk assessment outcomes,” the statement said.
“Extreme weather events driven by climate change have increased in frequency and severity,” said Don Forgeron, president and CEO of IBC, at an Economic Club of Canada event in Edmonton on Thursday, where he announced the initiative. “Storms and flooding in recent years have turned extreme and at times, tragic. That’s why mitigation and preparedness are vital and why IBC is stepping up to collaborate on a national flood program.”
As world leaders convene in Paris next week for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, a topic of discussion will be the costs of climate change, the IBC said in the release. Globally, the annual economic costs of disasters have increased five-fold since the 1980s, from $25 billion to $130 billion.
Canada has not been immune to these costs, the IBC said. Federal disaster relief spending has risen from an average of about $40 million per year in the 1970s to $100 million per year in the 1990s, reaching over $600 million per year this decade. In 2010, it hit $1 billion, and in 2013 it reached a record $1.4 billion as a result of flooding in Alberta and Ontario.
“Clearly, storms and floods are already costing Canadians significantly – disaster relief spending has increased almost 40-fold in about 40 years,” Forgeron said. “By taking action now, we can help minimize costs to taxpayers and better equip homeowners for the increased weather risks. We look forward to collaborating with federal and provincial governments to develop a coordinated, private-public response to a growing national problem.”
Building a country resilient to flooding will require a multi-pronged approach, the IBC noted, adding that there is a need to upgrade aging infrastructure to enable it to withstand increased precipitation. It is also vital to inform Canadians of the physical and financial consequences of flood. And finally, there is a strong need for comprehensive research.
“IBC believes the backbone to good policy is solid research and data,” Forgeron said. “That’s why we are happy to have formed a partnership to develop national flood maps. These maps will help appraise risk and prioritize mitigation efforts.”