Catastrophic flooding in British Columbia that prompted billions in damages to infrastructure, property and houses has resulted in a brand new complete flood technique to assist communities cut back danger and reply to excessive occasions.

Nathan Cullen, minister of water, land and useful resource stewardship, informed a information convention Thursday that the province labored alongside native governments and First Nations to draft the B.C. Flood Technique, which will probably be a street map to navigate local weather occasions.

“Floods, just like droughts, traditionally had been very localized, very brief time period,” he mentioned. “However like droughts, now we understand, with the consequences of local weather change, that floods will probably be a lot bigger region-wide and have a lot bigger impacts, therefore the necessity for a flood technique that includes … all communities.”

Cullen mentioned the flood technique focus will probably be in 4 key areas: assessing flood dangers with floodplain mapping, rising communication with native and First Nation governments, higher getting ready for floods and response, and serving to with flood resilience.

The Insurance coverage Bureau of Canada lauded the announcement, calling it an essential step as greater than 200,000 B.C. households stay at “excessive danger of flood injury.”

A sequence of atmospheric rivers swamped southwestern B.C. in November 2021, washing away parts of eight main highways, whereas chopping site visitors move between the Decrease Mainland and the remainder of B.C. The restore invoice can be within the billions.

Farms, properties and parts of communities had been inundated, inflicting over $675 million in insured flood injury, the insurance coverage bureau mentioned in an announcement Thursday.

The catastrophe showcased the necessity to higher perceive flood dangers, the bureau mentioned.

“That occasion is a part of an alarming pattern, as insured losses in Canada because of extreme climate now common over $2 billion yearly.”

Consultations for the brand new plan started after the 2021 floods. Cullen mentioned the principle message from native authorities was for “extra provincial motion.”

“We now have listened,” he mentioned. “The flood technique plan we’re placing out right now permits us to prioritize and take a look at the place the important thing parts are.”

Bowinn Ma, minister of emergency administration and local weather readiness, informed the information convention that the province can also be including $39 million to the Group Emergency Preparedness Fund that may go towards greater than 50 initiatives.

The funding will probably be used for work on dike rehabilitation, reinforcing a drainage-pump system, upgrading group centres to function as gathering locations for folks throughout excessive climate and launching watershed restoration initiatives.

“These initiatives will go a good distance towards preserving folks and their communities safer from disasters and excessive climate occasions equivalent to flooding, drought and excessive warmth,” Ma mentioned.

The province has already offered about $214 million by means of the fund to First Nations and native governments for nearly 1,900 initiatives throughout B.C., she added.

“We’re additionally working with our federal companions on catastrophe danger discount and we look ahead to sharing extra within the coming months about our assist for communities throughout the province,” she mentioned.

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed March 21, 2024.


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