Transcript: Assessing Ontario's Flood Risks | Mar 22, 2018

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white gingham shirt, and purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "Assessing Ontario's flood risks. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO
UNDERWATER IN FEBRUARY.
THE TORONTO ISLANDS OUT OF
COMMISSION FOR MUCH OF LAST
SUMMER.
FLOODING EVENTS SUCH AS THESE
HAVE COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE
PROVINCE BRACING FOR THE SPRING
THAW.
ARE THESE JUST FLUKES, OR SIGNS
OF A NEW NORMAL?
JOINING US NOW ON THAT:
BLAIR FELTMATE, HEAD OF THE
INTACT CENTRE ON CLIMATE
ADAPTATION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF
WATERLOO.

Blair is in his late forties, clean-shaven, with side-parted salt an pepper hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and printed yellow tie.

Steve continues WE'RE DELIGHTED YOU MADE THE
TRIP DOWN THE 401 TO SEE US TODAY.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Blair says HAPPY TO BE HERE.

Steve says LET'S START WITH
WHAT THE INTACT CENTRE ON
CLIMATE ADAPTATION IS.

The caption changes to "Blair Feltmate. Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation."

Blair says IT'S HOUSED WITHIN THE
FACULTY OF ENVIRONMENT AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO AND THE
NAME INTACT, OUR FOUNDING
ORGANIZATION WAS THE CASUALTY
INSURANCE COMPANY, AND BASICALLY
OUR FOCUS IS ON HOW DO WE TAKE
RISK OUT OF THE SYSTEM IN CANADA
RELATIVE TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND
EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS AND
DISPROPORTIONATELY OUR FOCUS IS
ON ADDRESSING PROBLEMS
PERTAINING TO FLOODING.
HOW DO WE ADDRESS FLOOD RISK IN
THE COUNTRY.

Steve says THAT SOUNDS LIKE AN
IMPOSSIBLE TASK.
HOW ARE YOU DOING?

Blair says I THINK WE'RE DOING FAIRLY
WELL.
THERE ARE ACTIONABLE ITEMS THAT
YOU CAN ENGAGE TO GET RISK OUT
OF THE SYSTEM TO MAKE IT SUCH
THAT COMMUNITIES DON'T FLOOD OUT
AS MUCH AS THEY WOULD OTHERWISE
BY PUTTING CERTAIN ACTIONS IN
PLACE, AND YOU CAN HELP
INDIVIDUAL HOME OWNERS NOT HAVE
A FLOODED BASEMENT.

Steve says WE'RE GOING TO GO
THROUGH ALL OF THOSE THINGS OVER
THE COURSE OF OUR CONVERSATION.
WE'RE GOING TO PUT SOME PICTURES
UP RIGHT NOW AS WE CONSIDER WHAT
HAS BEEN THE CASE IN THIS
PROVINCE OVER THE LAST YEAR.
LET'S SURVEY SOME OF THE DAMAGE.

A picture shows rubble and damage near a gas station.

Steve continues IF YOU LIVE ACROSS SOUTHERN
ONTARIO, WE SAW FLOODING IN
FEBRUARY, ICE CHUNKS WASHING
ASHORE ON WATER STREET IN
CAMBRIDGE, WE SAW PARKING LOTS
UNDERWATER IN LONDON, ONTARIO.

Another picture shows a flooded parking lot with several cars.

Steve continues WE'VE GOT A SHOT OF NEW HAMBURG
HERE, OR AT LEAST WHAT YOU CAN
SEE OF NEW HAMBURG, THAT ISN'T
UNDERWATER.

Pictures flash by of a flooded town. Then fast clips show a containment line made with bags of dirt, and a truck driving in a flooded area as a woman paddles by on a kayak. A caption reads "May 29, 2017."

Steve continues AND I THINK MOST OF US REMEMBER
THE PREMIER DECLARING A STATE OF
EMERGENCY IN THE CITY OF
BRANTFORD ABOUT AN HOUR WEST OF
HAMILTON DUE TO THE FLOODING
THAT THEY HAD THERE.
WE'VE GOT A CLIP OF... BOY, HOW
MANY PEOPLE REMEMBER THIS?...
THE TORONTO ISLANDS WHICH
WERE SHUT DOWN BECAUSE OF THE
WATER SITUATION THERE LAST
SUMMER.
ALL RIGHT.
HOW DO YOU WANT TO EXPLAIN THESE
EVENTS, BLAIR?

The caption changes to "Blair Feltmate. University of Waterloo."
Then, it changes again to "Water damage."

Blair says FUNDAMENTALLY THE DRIVER
BEHIND THEM AT THE BASE IS
CLIMATE CHANGE.
THAT IS THE MANIFESTATION OF
CLIMATE CHANGE.
WE'RE GETTING BIGGER STORMS
TODAY THAN WE DID IN THE PAST,
AND INDEED IN SOUTHERN CANADA
RIGHT NOW WE'RE GETTING ABOUT
18 percent MORE RAIN ON AN ANNUAL BASIS
THAN OCCURRED JUST OVER 100
YEARS AGO, AND THAT'S ON
AVERAGE.
THAT MEANS IF SOMEBODY IS
GETTING LESS, SOMEBODY IS
GETTING MORE.
SO WITH MORE RAIN IN THE SYSTEM,
WE'RE GETTING MORE FLOODING.
BUT IT'S NOT THE ONLY FACTOR
THAT EXPLAINS FLOODING.
WE ALSO HAVE A LOSS OF WETLANDS
THROUGHOUT ONTARIO, 70 percent HAVE
BEEN LOST, WHEN THEY'RE THERE IN
THEIR ORIGINAL STATE, THEY
ABSORB WATER AND ALLOW IT TO
DISCHARGE OVER A LONGER PERIOD
OF TIME.
BY REMOVING THEM, THAT
CONTRIBUTES TO FLOODING.

Steve says THEY DISAPPEAR WHY?

Blair says THEY'RE PACED OVER OR TAKEN
OVER IN AGRICULTURAL INVESTMENT.
WE HAVE AGING MUNICIPAL
INFRASTRUCTURE, AGING HOUSES, WE
HAVE LESS PERMEABILITY IN CITIES
GIVING WATER LESS PLACES TO GO
TO DRAIN NATURALLY.
SO WHEN YOU TAKE CLIMATE CHANGE
ON TOP OF DENSE FICTION AND
GROWTH, ALL OF THIS IS GIVING
THE FLOODING THAT WE'RE SEEING.

Steve says ARE YOU ABLE TO PUT
A PERCENTAGE ON WHAT YOU
ATTRIBUTE TO CLIMATE CHANGE
AGAINST THOSE OTHER THINGS?

Blair says NOT CATEGORICALLY BUT IT'S
NOT AN IMMATERIAL MONEY.

Steve says WE DON'T HAVE A FULL
COST OF THE DAMAGE THAT'S BEEN
TALKED ABOUT ON THE PROGRAM SO
FAR.
HERE'S WHAT THE INSURANCE BUREAU
OF CANADA SUSPECTS IS GOING
ON... THANKS, SHELDON.
HERE'S THIS GRAPHIC.
LOOK AT THIS.
REMEMBER THE GRANDDADDY IN
TORONTO, ALMOST A BILLION
DOLLARS IN FLOOD DAMAGE.
THAT'S IN THE
PROVINCE OF ONTARIO.
WHAT'S GOING ON NATIONALLY AS WELL?

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Highest insurance payouts in Ontario."

The slate shows that the highest was in 2013 in Toronto, for 945 million dollars. The second highest was in Toronto and Southern Ontario in 2014, for 78 million dollars.

Blair says WELL, THESE NUMBERS REFLECT
THE NATIONAL TREND VERY WELL.
IF YOU LOOK AT FROM ABOUT 1983
UP TO ABOUT 2008, THE INSURANCE
INDUSTRY AS A WHOLE, IN TERMS OF
CATASTROPHIC LOSS CLAIMS IN THE
COUNTRY, COULD COUNT ON PAYING
OUT BETWEEN ABOUT 200 MILLION
AND 500 MILLION dollars A YEAR FOR
CATASTROPHIC EVENTS.
CATASTROPHIC EVENT IN INSURANCE
TERMS IS ANY EVENT THAT COSTS
MORE THAN 25 MILLION dollars.

A bar chart pops up showing the increasing costs of extreme weather in catastrophic insurable losses.

Steve says LOOK AT THAT GRAPH.
DOESN'T IT TELL A STORY?

Blair says EXACTLY.
IF YOU LOOK AT THAT GRAPH UP TO
2008, YOU LOOK AT THOSE GREEN
BARS, WE'RE SOMEWHERE IN THE
ZONE OF INSURABLE CLAIMS PAYOUTS
OF 200 MILLION TO 500 MILLION dollars
PER YEAR.
FROM 2009 ONWARD, WE'VE GONE UP
OVER A BILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR
ON ANNUAL PAYOUTS, AND THE
FACTOR THAT'S THE ELEPHANT IN
THE ROOM THAT EXPLAINS MOST OF
THE UPWARD BEND IN THIS CURVE IS
TOO MUCH WATER IN THE WRONG
PLACE, FLOODING.
FLOODING IS THE NUMBER ONE COST
TO CANADA IN TERMS OF CLIMATE
CHANGE.

Steve says DO I INFER FROM
THESE NUMBERS THAT THE INSURANCE
BUSINESS ITSELF CANNOT CONTINUE
TO SUSTAIN 100 percent INCREASES YEAR
OVER YEAR OVER YEAR FOR AS FAR
AS THE EYE CAN SEE?

The caption changes to "Blair Feltmate, @ICCA_Canada."

Blair says THAT'S RIGHT.
WHAT WE'RE ACTUALLY SEEING RIGHT
NOW, FRANKLY, THE PREMIUM YOU
WOULD PAY FOR YOUR HOUSE IS
BASED ON FLOODING, WHAT WE'RE
TALKING ABOUT, PREMIUMS CAN ONLY
GO UP SO HIGH UNTIL A HOME OWNER
SIMPLY CAN'T AFFORD THEM.

Steve says THEY'LL JUST TAKE
THEIR CHANCES AND NOT BUY
INSURANCE AT THAT POINT?

Blair says QUITE FRANKLY WHAT'S
HAPPENING RIGHT NOW FROM HALIFAX
TO VICTORIA, WE HAVE A GROWING
UNINSURABLE HOUSING MARKET IN
CANADA WHERE PEOPLE SIMPLY
CANNOT GET INSURANCE COVERAGE
FOR ANY TYPE OF WATER DAMAGE IN
BASEMENTS BECAUSE THE RISK HAS
BEEN SO HIGH OR THROUGH REPEATED
CLAIMS...

[SPEAKING SIMULTANEOUSLY]

Blair says EXACTLY.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: TVO.org. Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram."

Steve says THERE ARE A GROWING
NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY
WHO HAVE UNINSURABLE HOMES.

Blair says THAT'S RIGHT.

Steve says THAT SOUNDS
PROBLEMATIC, DOESN'T IT?

Blair says IT'S HIGHLY PROBLEMATIC.
THE AVERAGE COST OF A FLOODED
BASEMENT IN CANADA RIGHT NOW IS
43,000 dollars.
IF YOU HAVE A 43,000 dollar FLOOD WITH
NO COVERAGE, WHAT DO YOU DO?
A LOT OF PEOPLE SIMPLY DON'T
HAVE 43,000 dollars SITTING AROUND OF
DISPOSABLE INCOME TO SOLVE THE
PROBLEM.
AND REMEMBER, GENERALLY SPEAKING
THIS SEWER WATER IN YOUR
BASEMENT.
THIS IS REALLY NASTY STUFF.
IF YOU FLOOD ON A MONDAY, YOU
HAVE TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM BY
WEDNESDAY OF THAT WEEK OR THE
HOUSE IS UNINHABITABLE.

Steve says OH, MY GOODNESS.
YOU HAVE HEARD HOME OWNERS SAY
IN THE PAST THE INSURANCE
COMPANIES MAKE THIS TOO
COMPLICATED.
YOU THINK YOU'RE COVERED FOR
SOMETHING BUT THEN YOU DISCOVER
ONCE THE DAMAGE HAS HAPPENED
YOU'RE NOT COVERED FOR IT AFTER
ALL OR YOU'RE NOT COVERED ENOUGH
CONSIDERING WHAT DAMAGE HAS BEEN
DONE.
DO INSURANCE COMPANIES NEED TO
DO A BETTER JOB OF MEETING
PEOPLE'S EXPECTATIONS AND
UNDERSTANDINGS OF WHAT'S GOING ON?

Blair says YES, AND THEY KNOW THAT.
FOR THE LAST TWO OR THREE YEARS,
I'VE BEEN SPENDING A LOT OF TIME
WITH INSURERS IN THE COUNTRY
FOCUSING ON HOW DO WE MAKE THE
MESSAGE SIMPLER TO HOME OWNERS
TO GET THEM TO UNDERSTAND WHAT
ARE YOU COVERED FOR, WHAT ARE
YOU NOT COVERED FOR?
AND WHAT ANY HOME OWNER SHOULD
DO IS CALL UP THEIR INSURANCE
BROKER AND FIND OUT BEFORE A
DISASTER OCCURS, FIND OUT, WHAT
AM I COVERED FOR, WHAT AM I NOT
COVERED FOR, WHAT CAVEATS SHOULD
I BE AWARE OF, DO I NEED MORE
COVERAGE, ETC.?
IF YOU OWN A HOME, FIND OUT
RIGHT NOW WHAT YOU'RE COVERED
FOR.

The caption changes to "Taking action."

Steve says THAT SEEMS COMMON
SENSE.
DON'T PEOPLE DO THAT ANYWAY?

Blair says NO.
MOST PEOPLE WAIT... IT'S A
MANAGEMENT BY DISASTER SCENARIO.
YOU HAVE A DISASTER AND THEN YOU
START TO LOOK INTO THE FROM BE.

Steve says IT MIGHT BE A BIT
LATE BY THAT POINT.
YOU WORK WITH GOVERNMENT AND
INDUSTRY TO GET PEOPLE UP TO
SCRATCH AND EQUIPPED ON VARIOUS
EVENTS.
WHAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
YOU THINK YOU'RE WORKING ON AT
THE MOMENT TO IMPROVE THE
SITUATION?

Blair says THERE ARE A COUPLE OF THINGS.
ONE IS WE'RE WORKING VERY
AGGRESSIVELY RIGHT NOW
NATIONALLY TO DEVELOP NEW FLOOD
RISK MAPS FOR CANADA.
RIGHT NOW THE DELINEATION OF
WHERE THE WATER IS GOING TO GO
WHEN THE BIG STORMS HIT, THEY'RE
OUT OF DATE.
SO WE NEED TO PRODUCE UP-TO-DATE
FLOODPLAIN MAPS THAT TAKE
CLIMATE CHANGE INTO ACCOUNT WITH
OTHER FACTORS LIKE DENSITY OF
CITIES.
THE QUESTION IS, ONCE YOU KNOW
YOU'RE AT RISK, WHAT DO YOU DO
ABOUT IT?
WE'RE SPENDING A LOT OF TIME
RIGHT NOW WITH HOME INSPECTORS
AND THE COLLEGES THAT TRAIN HOME
INSPECTORS.
RIGHT NOW BE, BELIEVE IT OR NOT,
HOME INSPECTORS RECEIVE
VIRTUALLY ZERO TRAINING ON
BASEMENT FLOOD RISK ASSESSMENT.
SO WE'RE DEVELOPING A NEW COURSE
RIGHT NOW THAT HOME INSPECTORS
WILL TAKE THAT WILL BE UP AND
RUNNING IN SEPTEMBER OF THIS
YEAR THAT WILL GIVE THEM
EXPERTISE IN THIS AREA, SUCH
THAT WHEN A HOUSE GOES THROUGH
THE BUY-SELL CYCLE AND 90 percent OF
THE TIME THERE'S A HOME
INSPECTION, NOW WE CAN HAVE A
MUCH MORE IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS OF
POTENTIAL FLOOD VULNERABILITY
FOR THAT HOUSE AND CORRECTIVE
MEASURES THAT NEED TO BE TAKEN
SO THE PROBABILITY OF FLOODING
IS LOWER, AND THEN, WITHOUT
GOING INTO ALL THE DETAILS,
WE'RE DEVELOPING NEW CODES AND
STANDARDS FOR CANADA RIGHT NOW,
FOR EXAMPLE, THAT FOCUS ON, HOW
DO WE BUILD NEW RESIDENTIAL
COMMUNITIES GOING FORWARD WITH
FUNDAMENTAL FEATURES AND
CHARACTERISTICS IN PLACE THAT
WILL MAKE IT SUCH THAT WHEN THE
BIG STORMS HIT GOING FORWARD,
THE PROBABILITY OF FLOODING IN
THOSE COMMUNITIES IS MUCH, MUCH
LOWER.
AND STEP NUMBER ONE STARTS WITH,
DON'T BUILD ON FLOODPLAINS.

Steve says A BUNCH OF THINGS I
WANT TO FOLLOW UP ON THERE.
LET'S START TO GO THROUGH THEM.
WHAT'S THE SIMPLEST AND MOST
COST EFFECTIVE THING PEOPLE
WATCHING US RIGHT NOW CAN DO TO
PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM A
FLOODED BASEMENT?

Blair says THEY CAN DO A COUPLE OF
THINGS.
THE DOWNSPOUT FROM THE
EAVESTROUGH, IF IT DISAPPEARS
INTO THE GROUND, INTO THE
WEEPING TILE SYSTEM, CUT THAT
OFF, PUT AN ELBOW ON IT, AND GET
AN EXTENSION AND DIRECT THE
WATER THREE METRES AWAY FROM THE
HOME AND NOT INTO YOUR
NEIGHBOUR'S YARD.
PLASTIC COVERS OVER WINDOW WELLS
AT GROUND LEVEL, PLASTIC COVERS
OVER THOSE.
IT DOESN'T HIT THAT AND
SUBSEQUENTLY FLOW INTO THE
BASEMENT.
MAKE SURE THE SEALS ARE
WATERTIGHT.
IF WATER GETS UP TO THEM, THEY
CAN'T FLOW INTO THE BASEMENT.
IF YOU HAVE A SUMP PUMP, MAKE
SURE YOU HAVE BATTERY BACKUP
SUPPLY.
THE TIME YOU NEED THE SUMP PUMP
IS WHEN THE BIG STORMS ARE
HITTING AND THAT'S OFTEN WHEN
THE ELECTRICITY GOES OUT SO IT
DOESN'T DO YOU ANY GOOD AT THE
TIME YOU NEED IT.
YOU CAN HAVE THE CITY COME IN
AND DO AN EXAMINATION, DO YOU
NEED A VALVE... THE DRAIN IS IN
THE BASEMENT WHERE THE WATER
WOULD GO THROUGH THE BASEMENT
AND OUT IF THE DISHWASHER
OVERFLOWED.
SOMETIMES WHEN STORMS HIT, WATER
CAN BACK UP THROUGH THAT SYSTEM
AND INTO YOUR BASEMENT.
YOU MAY NEED A CHECK VALVE PUT
IN PLACE SO WATER CAN FLOW OUT
AND NOT IN.
IF PEOPLE DO JUST THESE BASIC
FUNDAMENTALS AROUND THEIR HOUSE,
IT CAN BE THE DIFFERENCE...
WHICH CAN USUALLY BE DONE BY THE
AVERAGE HOME OWNER ON A SATURDAY
AND MAYBE A SUNDAY MORNING FOR
NEXT TO NO MONEY, NO GREAT
EXPERTISE REQUIRED, THAT CAN BE
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HAVING A
50,000 dollars BASEMENT FLOOD VERSUS NOT.

Steve says MY HUNCH IS NO ONE
TELLS PEOPLE THIS WHEN THEY BUY
A HOUSE.
FROM THE MOMENT YOU BUY... YOU
GET YOUR MORTGAGE LINED UP TO
THE MOMENT YOU TAKE OCCUPANCY OF
THE HOUSE, NO ONE HAS ACTUALLY
TOLD YOU ANY OF THOSE VERY
IMPORTANT EDUCATIONAL THINGS
ALONG THE WAY.
SHOULD WE BE CHANGING THE WAY
MORTGAGES ARE LET OR HOMES ARE
TAKEN OVER OR SOMETHING IN ORDER
TO HELP MAKE THAT HAPPEN?

Blair says YEAH, ABSOLUTELY,
CATEGORICALLY.
AS A MATTER OF FACT, I'M DEEPLY
INVOLVED IN THIS WHOLE FILE WITH
THE INSURERS, WITH THE BANKS,
WITH THE MORTGAGE MARKET, WITH
THE REAL ESTATE AGENTS.

Steve says WHAT SHOULD THEY DO?

Blair says ULTIMATELY WHAT WE'RE LOOKING
AT IS ONCE WE HAVE THE HOME
INSPECTORS PROPERLY TRAINED AND
ACCREDITED IN THIS AREA WHICH IS
IMMINENT, IT WILL START THIS
FALL, WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE
ULTIMATELY IS THAT, YOU KNOW,
WHEN YOU GO TO BUY A HOUSE AND
YOU LOOK AT THE LISTING FOR THE
HOUSE, IT HAS THE NUMBER OF
BEDROOMS AND ALL THE
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE HOUSE,
ULTIMATELY WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT
IS GETTING A LITTLE BOX ON THERE
THAT MAY SAY FLOOD READY, YES OR
NO?
AND IT WILL ALLOW YOU AS A HOME
OWNER, IF YOU SEE A YES THERE,
YOU SAY, YOU KNOW WHAT?
THIS HOME HAS GONE THROUGH A
REVIEW BY A PROPERLY ACCREDITED
PERSON THAT SAYS THE
THE QUESTION COMES UP, IF YOU
LIST YOUR HOUSE, YOU'LL SIT AT
THE TABLE WITH YOUR REAL ESTATE
AGENT, AND GO THROUGH THE
FEATURES OF THE HOUSE.
ONE OF THE QUESTIONS WILL BE
HAVE YOU EVER HAD FLOODING IN
THE BASEMENT?
THE PERSON WILL OFTEN SAY NO,
WHETHER THEY HAVE OR NOT.
MORALITY GOES OFF THE TABLE WHEN
YOU'RE ABOUT TO LIST YOUR HOUSE.
MANY DON'T WANT TO ADVERTISE THE
FACT THAT, OH, SURE, WE HAVE
FLOODING ALL THE TIME.
WE NEED MORE RIGOUR IN THE
SYSTEM WITH RESPECT TO THIS
WHOLE ISSUE.

Steve says LET ME PICK UP ON
SOMETHING YOU SAID EARLIER WHICH
IS HOW MUCH INNOVATION CAN TAKE
PLACE IN THE ACTUAL CONSTRUCTION
OF NEW HOMES, FOR EXAMPLE.
IS THERE NEW MATERIAL OUT THERE
THAT, FOR LACK OF A BETTER WORD,
COULD SPONGIFY, SOAK UP BIG
RAINFALLS IN A WAY THAT THE
CURRENT MATERIALS LIKE BRICKS,
FOR EXAMPLE, JUST DON'T DO?

The caption changes to "Municipal innovation."

Blair says YEAH, THE ANSWER IS YES.
FOR EXAMPLE, ONE FEATURE ALONE
IS NOW WE HAVE PERM I CAN'T
BELIEVE... PERMEABLE PAVEMENT
AND CONCRETE.
WHEN WATER HITS IT, IT CAN
ABSORB AND FILTER THROUGH THE
SURFACING AND RECHARGE THE
GROUND WATER SYSTEM OR DISCHARGE
SLOWLY DOWNSTREAM.
THAT'S JUST ONE ASPECT OF THAT
WHICH YOU CAN BRING TO PEOPLE'S
DRIVEWAYS, TO MUNICIPAL PARKING
LOTS, TO PARKING LOTS IN AND
AROUND SHOPPING MALLS, ETC.

A picture shows a parking lot with an area reserved for grass and trees.

Blair continues NO, WE CAN MAKE IT SUCH... WE
CAN BUILD HOUSES GOING FORWARD,
FOR EXAMPLE, WE DON'T HAVE
REVERSE SLOPE DRIVEWAYS.
WE DON'T HAVE THE DRIVEWAY
LEANING TOWARD THE HOUSE, AWAY
FROM THE HOUSE, DIRECT WATER
AWAY.
WHEN WE BUILD HOMES GOING
FORWARD, WE MAKE SURE THEY'RE
NOT IN FLOODPLAINS.
THAT'S WHY WE NEED TO UPDATE THE
FLOOD PLAIN MAPS.
IT IS AMAZING, AT THE TIME
YOU'RE BUILDING, HOW EASY IT IS
TO PUT FEATURES IN PLACE THAT
WILL NOT ADD ANY SIGNIFICANT
COST TO THE SYSTEM, THAT WILL
MAKE IT SUCH THAT THE
PROBABILITY OF A PROBLEM DOWN
THE ROAD IS MUCH LOWER THAN IF
YOU DON'T MAKE THIS EFFORT.

Steve says HOW TOUGH DO YOU
WANT TO GET ON THIS KIND OF THING?
YOU DO WANT TO SAY YOU CAN'T
HAVE A SLOPED DRIVEWAY OR YOU
MUST USE THESE NEW MATERIALS
THAT FUNGIFY BETTER?

Blair says WE'RE ACTUALLY DEVELOPING NEW STANDARDS RIGHT NOW TO GUIDE...
WE HAVE THREE STANDARDS COMING
OUT RIGHT NOW.
ONE IS A NEW STANDARD ON
BASEMENT FLOOD PROTECTION FOR
HOME OWNERS OR HOME ASSESSORS
THAT THEY CAN USE TO FIGURE OUT,
WHAT DO WE DO TO MAKE IT SUCH
THAT WE DON'T GET A FLOODED
BASEMENT AT THE LEVEL OF THE
HOUSE OR THE PROPERTY?
NUMBER TWO, WE HAVE A NEW
STANDARD COMING OUT IN ABOUT A
YEAR FROM NOW ON NEW RESIDENTIAL
COMMUNITY DESIGNS.
THESE ARE THE FUNDAMENTAL
FEATURES THAT SHOULD GO INTO NEW
RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITIES DESIGNED
TO MAKE IT SUCH WE DON'T HAVE
EXCESSIVE FLOODING WHEN THE BIG
STORMS HIT.
THE THIRD STANDARD COMING OUT
WILL FOCUS ON EXISTING
COMMUNITIES.
WHAT IS IT WE CAN DO WITHIN
EXISTING COMMUNITIES TO LOWER
FLOOD RISK PROFILES?
HOW DO WE USE BERMS, DIVERGING
CHANNELS, HOLDING PONDS, BIO
SWALES, CISTERNS, TO LOWER THE
FLOOD RISK PROFILE OF THE CITY?
SO THESE THREE STANDARDS ARE
COMING OUT NOW THROUGH A
COLLECTIVE EFFORT OF NATIONAL
RESEARCH COUNCIL, STANDARDS
COUNCIL OF CANADA, CANADIAN
STANDARDS ASSOCIATION, AND
WORKING VERY CLOSELY WITH THE
INTACT CENTRE.

Steve says GREEN SPACES IN CITIES.
HOW IMPORTANT TO STOPPING FLOODING?

Blair says EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
AS A MATTER OF FACT, A LITTLE
WHILE AGO WE DID A RESEARCH
STUDY THAT LOOKED AT WETLANDS,
IF YOU'LL USE THAT TERM FOR A
GREENSPACE, AND SAID WETLANDS
WHEN LEFT IN THEIR NATURAL
STATE, WHAT ROLE DO THEY PLAY,
IF ANY, TO ATTENUATE THE
PROBABILITY OF FLOODING
OCCURRING IN THE FUTURE?

As he speaks, clips show a flooded area and a containment wall made of bags of dirt, which protects lakefront houses.

Blair continues WHAT WE FOUND WAS BY LEAVING
WETLANDS NATURAL, WHEN BIG
STORMS HIT GOING FORWARD, IN
RURAL AREAS, WE'VE REDUCED
INSURABLE COST BY ABOUT 29 percent.
IN URBAN AREAS, WE REDUCE
INSURABLE COSTS OR CLAIMS BY
38 percent.
SO BY LEAVING NATURAL
INFRASTRUCTURE NATURAL, WE
REDUCE INSURABLE CLAIMS BY
BETWEEN ABOUT 30 TO 40 PERCENT.

Steve says IN OUR LAST FEW
MINUTES HERE, LET'S JUST FOCUS
ON SOME OF THE MORE DIRECT
CLIMATE CHANGE ANGLES ON THIS
STORY.
IN ONTARIO WE HAVE A
CAP-AND-TRADE SYSTEM, SOME
PROVINCES HAVE A CARBON TAX
INSTEAD.
IT'S ALL DESIGNED TO DEAL WITH
CLIMATE CHANGE.
HOW DO THOSE DIFFERENT SOLUTIONS
FACTOR INTO THE FLOODING DEBATE
WE'RE HAVING HERE?

The caption changes to "Role of government."

Blair says WELL, IN ONTARIO, NOT TOO
MUCH ON THE CAP-AND-TRADE SIDE
OF THE EQUATION BECAUSE EVERY
DOLLAR FROM IT IS DESIGNATED
LEGISLATIVELY AND IT HAS TO GO
TOWARDS GREEN ENERGY
INITIATIVES, WHICH IS A GOOD
THING TO DO TO MITIGATE
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS AND
HOPEFULLY AS A RESULT OF THAT
WE'RE GETTING LESS CLIMATE
CHANGE, SO THAT'S A SMART THING
TO DO.
INDEPENDENT OF THAT, THOUGH, AND
I CAN SAY I WORK VERY CLOSELY
WITH THE GOVERNMENT HERE IN
ONTARIO, THE MINISTRY OF
ENVIRONMENT AND OTHERS, THEY ARE
NONETHELESS PUTTING EFFORTS INTO
SUPPORTING ADAPTATION PROGRAMS
TO GET RISK OUT OF THE SYSTEM.
THE MONIES FOR THESE EFFORTS AND
THE SUPPORT FOR THESE EFFORTS
MAY NOT BE COMING FROM THE CAP
AND TRADE SYSTEM, BUT IT'S
COMING NONETHELESS THROUGH
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT, COMBINED
WITH A FAIR BIT OF INPUT FROM
THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY, AS YOU
MIGHT GUESS, FOR LOGICAL
REASONS, THEY'RE ALSO SUPPORTING
THESE EFFORTS.
SO I THINK WHAT'S HAPPENED
BASICALLY IN THE COUNTRY ON THE
CLIMATE FILE IS OVER THE PERIOD
OF SAY THE LAST 10, 15 YEARS, UP
TO TWO OR THREE YEARS AGO,
ALMOST ALL THE DISCUSSION ON
CLIMATE CHANGE WAS ON MITIGATING
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS, WHICH
IS A GOOD THING TO DO.
BUT ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE
CHANGE, PUTTING THE MEASURES IN
PLACE THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT,
WAS SORT OF THE DISTANT COUSIN
THAT NOBODY TALKED ABOUT.
BUT WITH ALL THE FLOODING THAT'S
GOING ON NOW, AS HIGHLIGHTED AT
THE BEGINNING OF THE SHOW, I
WOULD SAY POLITICIANS,
FEDERALLY, PROVINCIALLY,
MUNICIPALLY, THEY REALLY HAVE
RELIGION ON THE FILE THAT WE
NEED TO ADDRESS THE RISKS THAT
ARE ON THE GROUND NOW, BUT ALSO
THE FLOODING THAT'S GOING TO
COME IN THE FUTURE.
CANADA HAS NOT SEEN FLOODING YET
RELATIVE TO THAT WHICH IS
COMING.

Steve says NOW, YOU SAY WE'RE
GETTING RELIGION, BUT PEOPLE
SOMETIMES CONVERT TO OTHER
RELIGIONS, AND IF YOU AND I WERE
TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION A YEAR
FROM NOW, IT'S ENTIRELY POSSIBLE
THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS IN THIS
COUNTRY COULD BE LED BY
GOVERNMENTS THAT DON'T LIKE THE
CARBON TAX AND DON'T LIKE CAP
AND TRADE EITHER, FOR THAT
MATTER.
WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A BIG DEBATE
IN ONTARIO IN THE COMING MONTHS
ABOUT THAT AS WELL BECAUSE THE
PCs ARE RUNNING TO GET RID OF
CAP AND TRADE ALTOGETHER.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT WOULD
MEAN FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
ADAPTATION IN ONTARIO IF CAP AND
TRADE WERE TO BE SCRAPPED?

Blair says I DON'T THINK IT WILL BE TOO MUCH, QUITE FRANKLY.
BECAUSE INDEPENDENT OF
MITIGATING GREENHOUSE GAS
EMISSIONS, SO THAT FILE WILL
CHANGE FOR SURE, BUT ON THE
ADAPTATION SIDE OF THE EQUATION,
WHETHER YOU'RE A LIBERAL,
CONSERVATIVE, NDP, GREEN PARTY,
OR ANYBODY ELSE FOR THAT MATTER,
IT IS IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF
THE POLITICIAN AND IT'S IN THE
BEST INTERESTS OF THE ELECTORATE
TO NOT HAVE FLOODING BASEMENTS,
TO NOT HAVE FLOODING
COMMUNITIES.
SO THAT REALITY REMAINS, PERIOD.
AND WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT
EVERY DOLLAR SPENT ON
ADAPTATION, THE BENEFITS OF THAT
SPENDING ARE REALIZED LOCALLY.
THEY DON'T ACCRUE INTO THE
GLOBAL COMMONS, WHICH IS KIND OF
WHAT HAPPENS ON THE MITIGATING
GREENHOUSE GAS SIDE OF THE
EQUATION AND YOU'RE HOPING
EVERYBODY ELSE IS REDUCING THEIR
GREENHOUSE GAS ADAPTATIONS, BUT
THE BENEFITS ARE REALIZED
LOCALLY AND, NUMBER TWO, ON
ADAPTATION, IT'S THE GIFT THAT
KEEPS ON GIVING.
IN OTHER WORDS, IF YOU PUT
MEASURES IN PLACE TO MITIGATE
RISK, EVERY TIME THAT STRESSOR
WOULD COME TO THE SYSTEM IN THE
FUTURE AND YOU'RE NOT HAVING
FLOODING DUE TO THE NEXT BIG
STORM, YOU REALIZE THE BENEFIT.
THEN A LITTLE WHILE LATER,
ANOTHER STORM COMES ALONG, BUT
BASED ON THOSE INITIAL MEASURES
YOU PUT IN PLACE, AGAIN, THE
BENEFITS ACCRUE, THE BENEFITS
ACCRUE.
IT'S ACTUALLY HARD TO CALCULATE
THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT FOR
ADAPTATION BECAUSE EVERY TIME A
BIG EVENT OR A STRESSOR HAPPENS,
YOU REALIZE THAT MUCH MORE
BENEFIT IN THE SYSTEM.
SO BASED ON THE FACT THAT
ADAPTATION EFFORTS, THE BENEFITS
ARE LOCAL AND IT'S THE GIFT THAT
KEEPS ON GIVING, I THINK YOU'LL
SEE ANY POLITICAL PARTY SUPPORT
IT GOING FORWARD.

Steve says YOU'RE ADAPTING BUT
NOT PREVENTING.

Blair says YOU'RE CORRECT.
THAT'S RIGHT.

Steve says ADAPTING IS ONE
THING BUT IDEALLY YOU'D LIKE TO
PREVENT IN THE FIRST PLACE,
WOULDN'T YOU?

Blair says YES.
I'M NOT SAYING WE SHOULDN'T BE
DOING THAT.
WE SHOULD BE WORKING AS
VIGOROUSLY AND AGGRESSIVELY AS
POSSIBLE TO SLOW DOWN THE RATE
OF CHANGE IN THE SYSTEM AND THE
STRESS WE SEE MANIFEST.
SO ON THAT PART OF THE EQUATION,
THE DYNAMICS WOULD CHANGE A LOT,
CERTAINLY IN THIS PROVINCE,
THAT'S FOR SURE.

Steve says BLAIR, LET'S FINISH
UP ON THIS.
IF I GAVE YOU A WISH LIST, WHAT
ARE THE TOP THREE THINGS ON YOUR
WISH LIST IN TERMS OF POLICY
CHANGE?

Blair says RIGHT NOW, NUMBER ONE, AND
I'M NOT SO SURE IT'S POLICY BUT
DIRECTIVE, WE NEED TO PRODUCE
UP-TO-DATE FLOODPLAIN MAPS AND
RIGHT NOW.
WE DON'T HAVE THE LUXURY OF
TIME.
LET'S GET ON WITH IT FAST.
NUMBER TWO, WE NEED TO GET THE
HOME INSPECTORS TRAINED ON THIS
SUBJECT RAPIDLY, WHICH WE'RE
DOING, AND GET THEM TO DEPLOY
THAT EXPERTISE SO THAT WHEN
HOMES GO THROUGH THE BUY-SELL
CYCLE OR YOU LOOK AROUND YOUR
NEIGHBOURHOOD, I DON'T HAVE
FLOODING BUT THAT GUY DOES.
I'M GOING TO GET SOMEBODY IN TO
ASSESS MY PROPERTY TO MAKE SURE
IT'S OKAY.
FOR A COUPLE HUNDRED DOLLARS,
IT'S A COUPLE HUNDRED DOLLARS
WELL-SPENT.
WE NEED TO GET THESE PEOPLE UP,
TRAINED, AND DEPLOYED FAIRLY
RAPIDLY.
AND THIRDLY, IN REFERENCE TO THE
CODES WE'RE DEVELOPING, NEW
CODES AND STANDARDS ON
PROTECTION AT THE LEVEL OF THE
INDIVIDUAL HOUSE, NEW
RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITY DESIGN,
AND NEW STANDARDS FOR EXISTING
COMMUNITIES, WE NEED TO SOLIDIFY
THOSE CODES AND DEPLOY THEM AND
GET THEM TO BE EMBRACED BY
PROVINCIAL AND MUNICIPAL
GOVERNMENTS.

Steve says IT'S A SHAME YOU
DON'T HAVE ANY PASSION ABOUT
THIS ISSUE.

Blair says IT'S IMPORTANT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Patricia Kozicka, @TrishKozicka."

Steve says I AGREE.
AND THAT'S WHY WE HAD YOU HERE
TONIGHT.
BLAIR FELTMATE, IMPACT CENTRE ON
CLIMATE ADAPTATION, UNIVERSITY
OF WATERLOO.
THANKS, BLAIR.

Blair says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Watch: Assessing Ontario's Flood Risks