Climate change adaptation: mitigating floods and other weather disasters.

As governments at a national, provincial and municipal level recognize the growing need for adapting infrastructure to combat the effects of climate change, monies will be spent on both basic infrastructure projects and adopting new green technologies.

Climate change and extreme weather events threaten existing infrastructure across the country, impacting its effectiveness, lifespan, cost, maintenance, rehabilitation and renewal. For example, some older water systems cannot process an increase in precipitation, which increases the risk of flooding. Flood risk is mounting across Canada from fluvial sources, such as rivers and lakes; pluvial sources, such as intense rainfall inundating urban environments; and coastal sources, such as storm surges compounded by rising sea levels. Extreme weather events have and will continue to cause significant loss in the form of impacts to human settlements and ecosystems. To counter such impacts, communities are increasingly considering and investing in adaptation measures.

The estimated cost of responding to climate impacts in Canada — including impacts from extreme weather and other climate-related natural disasters — is projected to grow from an annual average of $5 billion in 2020 to $21–$43 billion by 2050. The Parliamentary Budget Officer forecasts that over the next five years the Government of Canada can expect weather-related disasters to cost the federal government an average of $902 million per year.

The financial impacts of climate change and extreme weather events are being felt by a growing number of homeowners and communities across Canada too. The increase in property & casualty (P&C) insurance losses is indicative of the growing costs associated with these events. These losses averaged $405 million per year between 1983 and 2008, and $1.8 billion between 2009 and 2017. Water damage is the key driver behind these growing costs.

Infrastructure Canada is the lead federal department responsible for infrastructure policy development and program delivery. Infrastructure Canada’s Investing in Canada Plan, published in April 2018, earmarks investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in five main infrastructure priorities. The first phase of the infrastructure plan focuses on repairing and upgrading public transit systems; investing in water and wastewater systems to ensure all communities, including Indigenous and rural communities, have secure access to clean drinking water; and that funds were available to build and repair much-needed affordable housing. Disaster mitigation actions, such as storm water infrastructure improvement and investments, are also a large part of the investment strategy. “Disaster mitigation actions provide significant return on investment. In Canada, $63.2 million invested in the Manitoba Red River Floodway in 1960 has saved an estimated $8 billion in potential damage and recovery costs. Ensuring assets are designed, built, operated and maintained in consideration of current and future climate risks will reduce vulnerability, enhance resilience and help protect Canadians and their communities.”

Companies in the municipal and green technologies spaces may wish to look for ways to tap into the Canadian supply chain.

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