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Preventing Disaster Before it Strikes – Developing a Canadian Standard for New Flood Resilient Residential Communities

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The Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation and partners have released a new report Preventing Disaster Before it Strikes – Developing a Canadian Standard for New Flood Resilient Residential Communities. This report profiles 20 best practices to be incorporated into the design and construction of new flood-resilient residential communities in Canada. Ensuring that new communities are built under the direction of these practices is necessary to combat ever-worsening extreme weather that, if not addressed, will result in costly and unremitting flood damage. Examples of the need to address current and future residential flood damages are many:tial flood damages are many: 
  • Financial and Mental Health Stress: Flooding is the most frequent and costliest natural disaster in Canada. Thousands of homeowners across the country experience property damages, loss of personal belongings, and the consequent financial and emotional distress that follows floods.
  • Insurable Risk: In communities across Canada that experience repeated basement flooding, insurance premiums are increasing in concert with growing flood risk - in cases where risk is excessive, flood insurance coverage may be reduced or withdrawn altogether. 
  • Mortgage Defaults: With limited flood insurance coverage, some homeowners in Canada may not be able to pay for flood damages. Due to limited liquidity to redress flooding, some homeowners may default on their mortgage (as homes with sewer water in the basement are generally uninhabitable). 
  • Legal Risks: Homeowners, developers, municipalities, provinces and insurance companies are increasingly facing lawsuits for flood-related damages. 
  • Municipal Credit Ratings: Credit rating agencies (e.g., DBRS, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s) are beginning to examine the potential for communities to be impacted by substantial flood recovery costs which, in turn, could cause a municipality to default on a bond. If the probability of a weather-induced default is material, the municipality may receive a downgraded credit rating. To address the evolving drivers outlined above, and in an effort to "get ahead of storms," newly built communities in Canada must incorporate best flood risk reduction practices into their design. 
Accordingly, the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation (Intact Centre) engaged with municipal stormwater and flood management experts, engineering consultants, developers, homebuilders and other stakeholders across Canada to identify best practices for flood-resilient residential community design. 
The Standards Council of Canada supported this effort, with the objective that the report will inform the development of a flood-resilient community design standard for new residential subdivisions in Canada.


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