Flooding is the costliest natural disaster in Canada, with insurance damages exceeding $1 billion a year, according to a recent study by UBC Okanagan (UBCO).
Following the extreme weather events in B.C. in 2021, UBCO researchers have created measures to help mitigate damage from future climate-related disasters.
“Communities across British Columbia have established strong policies and strategies to prepare and limit damage due to these extreme events, but policies related to post-disaster management are still in their infancy,” said Sadia Ishaq, with UBCO’s School of Engineering.
Researchers reviewed the policies and regulations of 22 organizations in the Okanagan Valley, with the goal to develop recommendations and best practices to improve flood resilience.
“Being flood-resilient when it comes to policy-making means these organizations are becoming more effective when they need to implement a community’s adaptation and recovery from unexpected disasters,” explained Ishaq. “This allows them to focus their efforts on people as well as infrastructure in the moment.”
Rearchers determined that local regulations for many Okanagan communities include extensive flood prevention measures, but not flood recovery.
Regions across the country are sharing best practices when it comes to reducing damages and risks through building up flood resiliency. However, Ishaq suggested that communities in the Okanagan could do a better job of collaborating and information sharing.
“Governments must continue to integrate sustainable watershed management, adaptive strategies for land use planning, zoning bylaws, and infrastructure development plan with low-impact development in order to address these challenging circumstances.”
The research builds on a larger project prepared earlier this year for the Okanagan Basin Water Board.