During a recent CTV Morning Live interview, Dr. Nahid Uzzaman, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of British Columbia real estate, spoke about the importance of floodplain maps. While citing a lack of expertise and funding, Dr. Uzzaman also highlighted the recent impact of a third atmospheric river in less than a week. Climate change is the most immediate threat, so it is crucial to understand the effects of a flood before it strikes.
For a city of its size, Vancouver is notoriously prone to flooding. As the tenth most flooded city in the world, Vancouver is especially vulnerable to climate change. One researcher hopes that a major storm or flooding will draw attention to the threat of climate change in this city. Until that time, though, there are no clear answers to this question. Luckily, the province has taken the initiative to develop a floodplain map of the area that covers more than half of the province.
The city already faces affordability issues, and increased flooding could compound that. The onset of the coronavirus in Vancouver and the resulting economic downturn exacerbated inequality. Meanwhile, in Richmond, the real estate market continues to ignore climate risks, with most expensive properties in that city experiencing floods every year by 2030. This would be disastrous for a city that is expected to grow by a million residents in the next few decades.
According to the study, a major river in Metro Vancouver may soon flood. The city’s low-lying areas could be underwater in 80 years. The reshaping of floodplains is a result of climate change. Slobodan Simonovic, a professor of engineering at Western University, compiled a comprehensive database of more than 150,000 documents. These data include historical rainfall, hydrodynamic modelling, and urbanization patterns.
A new study released by Environment Canada confirms the existence of an atmospheric river in British Columbia. The floods in Vancouver damaged vital infrastructure, and freight was piled high at the city’s key gateway to Asia. The flooding disrupted Canada’s supply lines and displaced almost 15,000 people. It’s estimated that a climate change-related disaster will cost Canada more than $43 billion dollars by 2020. In Vancouver, the floods will continue to affect the city’s economy, as five out of every 10 jobs will be unemployed by then.
Seismic hazard areas
The Vancouver Flood Plain Map is the most widely used map to help determine the hazard levels of a given area from earthquakes. The map shows the relative seismic hazard of different parts of Canada and helps design buildings to resist earthquakes. The map also shows the magnitude of ground motions, which gives a better idea of the likelihood of a given area experiencing a powerful shaking event.
The flood plain map shows high river levels in Vancouver, which is a potential source of earthquakes. Its spatial units are Census Tracts. The Vancouver Flood Plain Map also shows the regulated valley limits, which are areas of higher risk of flooding. The earthquake that struck the city of Vancouver on December 30 occurred in an area of high shake hazard. The flood plain map is also important in determining the level of risk that a particular area faces from flooding.
Considering this, the study has some limitations. It did not take into account the impacts of future urbanization on flood hazard. It assumes that future urban expansion will continue as it has in the past. However, there are land-use management strategies, infrastructure plans and environmental considerations that can help to prevent the destruction of these areas. By assessing these risks, we can determine the appropriate level of protection for the city.
Flood maps are based on the most recent climate change models. The maps show changes in flood depth, and they can also show changes in flow velocity. In addition to flood hazard mapping, the maps allow users to compare current flooding zones to predicted flooding levels 80 years in the future. This is especially helpful when assessing the future threat from climate change. The maps can be photocopied into greyscale so that they can be read more easily.
The provincial government has created new floodplain maps for Vancouver, but they’re not updated nearly as often as they should be. Rather, these outdated maps are difficult to use and can make planning for flooding emergencies nearly impossible. The maps’ outdated software, which is not compatible with modern web browsers, makes them difficult to read and navigate. However, provincial and local governments are working to update them. In the meantime, they’re still an important tool for a better flood plan.
Floodplain maps are a key element in protecting a property from flooding. Because sea level rise will continue to increase, coastal areas will be especially vulnerable. Fortunately, a team of scientists is working to update federal flood maps, which are used to determine insurance rates and property values. The federal flood maps are more than 25 years old, which means that some Vancouver homes could be at risk for flooding in the coming years. In fact, the federal government estimates that at least 500,000 homes in Canada could face flooding in the years to come.
The researchers at Western University studied the data from 369 high-risk communities in Alberta and New Brunswick. The government’s website lists 17 regions of Vancouver Island federally designated as flood-prone. The maps on Vancouver Island were created between 1979 and 1997, and have not been updated since. The research team’s findings suggest that these maps should be updated regularly. And it’s time to do so. But first, it’s important to understand what these maps mean for Vancouver and its residents. The study is still preliminary.
In Canada, approximately twenty percent of households are in high or very-risk areas. Having such a clear understanding of the flood risks will help engineers, conservation authorities, and governments plan stronger flood protection. Simonovic hopes to expand his mapping work and improve the accuracy of his maps. Eventually, he hopes to make the maps for coastal flooding. And he plans to fine-tune the projections to smaller grids. The study has been funded by the Chaucer Syndicate, a group that represents insurance companies in Canada.
Online tools for assessing flood risk
The flood damage model Hazus is one of several online tools for assessing flood risk in Vancouver. The tool uses a database of assets within the floodplain and hazard to calculate damages. Hazus can also calculate indirect tangible damages and losses from floods, including disruption to major transit stations and electrical distribution facilities. Although Hazus is based on large-scale building stock classifications, it can be refined using information provided by users. Various types of maps can be generated from this tool, and it also provides a map of all known properties.
The IBC provides flood maps for residential areas that show the risk of flooding. Flood maps show the potential for fluvial flooding, which is when a long period of rain exceeds the capacity of a river. Surface water flooding, on the other hand, occurs when heavy rainfall results in a flood event independent of an overflowing water body. A high-risk household has a greater chance of experiencing flooding. Depending on the area, 20% of Canadian households are considered high-risk. In some cases, the risk is so high that ten percent of Canadian households have a very high risk.
The tool provides a series of maps that allow users to visualize and assess coastal flood risks by decadal years. Users can also select the leading sea level rise models, which include accurate elevation data. The water level map lets users explore land that could be at risk of flooding at specific water levels based on sea level rise, tides, or storm surge. In addition to flood risk maps, the tool offers guidance on how to engage residents and local government officials in the process of flood risk assessment.
Future flood levels
Climate change is causing large swathes of Metro Vancouver to become vulnerable to flooding. Some areas could be submerged within 80 years as a result of climate change. Slobodan Simonovic, a flood-control expert at Western University, has created maps demonstrating what will happen if flooding levels continue to rise. He used nearly 150,000 documents including historical data, hydrodynamic modelling, urbanization patterns, and rainfall patterns to create a model of what might happen if climate change continues to affect the Vancouver flood plain.
The City of Vancouver’s website shows that by 2100, sea levels could rise by 2.4 feet, turning Stanley Park into an island, and Southwest Marine Drive into a muddy tidal flat. If the levels continue to rise, hospitals and other major infrastructure will need to be raised as well. The city is trying to document king tides so they can determine what adaptation measures are needed. But if we want to protect the city from future flooding, we should start preparing now.
Maps containing floodplain information are available from the Fraser Basin Council and other partners. These maps take into account the potential for dike overtopping and have shown the potential flooding depths in the Vancouver area. However, the maps are not definitive and may not be accurate enough to make informed decisions. It is important to consult local floodplain bylaws and maps to ensure that they are updated. There are several things to consider before buying property, and flooding can happen any day.
Simonovic says that Canadians need to rethink their flood preparedness. In fact, four million Canadians live in flood-prone areas. The flood risks in these regions are projected to increase as a result of climate change. However, there is hope. In the meantime, the flooding in Vancouver will only increase. There is no time to waste. And if we wait for the level of the Vancouver flood plain to rise, we might have to relocate.
Among many other things, David A. Grantham is a contributing author to UmassExtension West Vancouver Blo. He is a renowned expert on real estate in BC.
Born in North Vancouver, Louisiana, Dr. Grantham grew up in Lower Lonsdale. He then went on to complete his business degree at the University British Columbia. As of this writing, Grantham has completed over 100 projects, including the development of a high rise building in Vancouver.
He is a husband, father, son, brother, and friend. He was a dedicated outdoorsman and enjoyed sports such as hunting, fishing, scuba diving, and snow skiing. His wife, Alison Grantham, and their two daughters survived him. He is survived by his wife Alison Martin Grantham and two daughters.