Steps Toward a National Floodplain Management Framework

Flooding near Sicamous, BC (Photo: Emergency Info BC on Flickr)

Flooding near Sicamous BC in June 2012 affected local people, homes, businesses and infrastructure. (Photo (edited): Emergency Info BC on Flickr)

In recent years, BC has witnessed flooding in diverse locations, including Bella Coola, Duncan, Stewart and Pine Pass. Most flood hazard maps and maps produced under the federal-provincial Floodplain Mapping Program were produced in 2004 or earlier and have not been maintained or updated.

While there is a price tag to updates, the Real Estate Foundation is investing in initiatives such as the BC Real Estate Association's multi-stakeholder floodplain mapping workshop, which produced both an action plan to update maps and a funding guidebook for local governments in BC.

In June, Public Safety Canada completed an exploratory study, the National Floodplain Mapping Assessment - Final Report, to better understand the status of floodplain mapping in Canada. In response, we sent a letter to the federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness highlighting some of the work BC organizations are undertaking and encouraging the following steps (contained in the report) toward a national floodplain management framework:

  1. Document estimations of flood risk due to the high degree of uncertainty.
  2. Provide stream flow gauging to help with accuracy, particularly in un-gauged watersheds.
  3. Update standard methods for relating flooding to damages.
  4. Establish formal procedures to complete all steps of the mapping process.
  5. Place greater emphasis on calibration and ongoing updates/verification.
  6. Develop a national vision and set of standards that apply across Canada.
  7. Move beyond hazard mapping to consider risk to communities, industry and agriculture.
  8. Extend mapping along more rivers, particularly through urban areas.
  9. Consider events more severe than the 1:100 years in hazard mapping and flood risk assessment.
  10. Provide better public access to flood risk information.
  11. Update floodplain mapping across Canada.

- David Hendrickson