Kevin Gaddess, right, helps a friend navigate over debris from homes and cottages as floodwater continues to flood Route 690 in Princess Park, N.B. on May 12, 2018. A coast-to-coast study finds Canadian homeowners aren’t keeping up with the need to protect their houses against catastrophic events made more common by climate change. The study from the University of Waterloo points out that insurance claims from such weather-driven problems like floods have more than quadrupled over the last decade — even after taking rising real estate prices into account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Kevin Gaddess, right, helps a friend navigate over debris from homes and cottages as floodwater continues to flood Route 690 in Princess Park, N.B. on May 12, 2018. A coast-to-coast study finds Canadian homeowners aren’t keeping up with the need to protect their houses against catastrophic events made more common by climate change. The study from the University of Waterloo points out that insurance claims from such weather-driven problems like floods have more than quadrupled over the last decade — even after taking rising real estate prices into account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Homeowners falling behind growing threat of climate-related catastrophes: study

Canadians aren’t keeping up with the need to protect their homes against catastrophic events made more common by climate change, says a coast-to-coast study from the University of Waterloo.

“Homeowners can do a lot themselves to reduce risk of flooding,” said Natalia Moudrak, study co-author and researcher at the university’s climate adaptation centre.

Climatologists have long warned that extreme weather, including floods, will become more common as temperatures warm.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada reports that insurance payouts from extreme weather have more than doubled every five to 10 years since the 1980s.

The Waterloo study reports that property and casualty payouts averaged about $405 million a year from 1983 to 2008. Since then, payouts have more than quadrupled to $1.8 billion, mostly from flooding.

That’s not inflated by rising real estate values.

“All of this data is corrected for inflation and it’s corrected for wealth creation,” said co-author David Feltmate Thursday. “This is an actual increase in the amount of money being paid out.”

At the same time, the study found a large number of Canadians are vulnerable to flooding. It concluded about 1.7 million households representing about 20 per cent of Canada’s population are at risk.

Repairs can be expensive. The average cost to homeowners for flood damage in the Greater Toronto Area is estimated at $43,000.

And for some, insurance is out of reach.

“Increasingly,” said Feltmate, “people cannot get insurance for their homes because they have experienced one or more floods or they live in an area that’s designated high-risk and the premiums that the insurers would have to charge are off the charts.”

At the same time, householders aren’t doing everything they can to protect themselves and their homes — even when subsidies are available for measures such as sump pumps.

“The uptake for these subsidies is quite low,” said Moudrak. “On average across Canada, the uptake on these subsidies is below 10 per cent, even in the really bad flood-prone areas.”

That’s partly because many of the programs are confusing and difficult to apply for, said Feltmate, although he added municipalities are fixing those problems.

The report points out easy and inexpensive ways to make homes more floodproof.

Installing a sump pump with backup power is one of the best moves, it says. Backwater valves can prevent nasty backflows from overloaded sewer systems from surging into basements.

The report recommends walking around a house during a rain to see how and where water is draining, then regrading areas where moisture pools near foundations. And leaves should be prevented from plugging street drains.

“Homeowners need to take a more active role in protecting themselves,” Moudrak said.

The report also looks at municipalities. Feltmate said communities are taking steps to adapt to new weather coming with a shifting climate, but the rate of change is outpacing efforts.

“We have an adaptation deficit growing in Canada right now,” he said.

Money laid out ahead of time pays off, said Feltmate. The study suggests every dollar spent on preparing for a flood or other weather catastrophe saves between $3 and $12 in cleanup costs.

“It’s a lot cheaper not to have the problem,” he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Canadian drivers may not be as courteous as they thing, says a new survey.
Black Press file photo
83% of Alberta drivers admit to speeding: survey

97% of drivers admit to aggressive or road rage-like behaviour

Council approved a $3 million grant and a $19 million loan Tuesday to help keep Westerner Park sustainable. (Advocate file photo)
Red Deer city council approves $22M to keep Westerner Park viable after emotional debate

It’s vital ensure future success for the huge economic generator, says mayor

Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Coward tries to find a loose puck during WHL action at the Centrium earlier this season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Changes on the horizon for Red Deer Rebels next season

New coach, roster adjustments among top priorities for Sutter this offseason

Renovations and construction have begun at Red Deer Dream Centre. (Photo contributed)
Renovations underway at Red Deer Dream Centre

Christian-based addictions treatment centre

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

An Empire Day/Victoria Day gathering of school children on Ross Street by the Cenotaph in the 1920s. On the right hand side, are members of the Red Deer Citizens Band (forerunner of the Red Deer Royals). (Photo via Red Deer Archives)
Victoria Day event helped after war

One hundred years ago, on May 24, 1921, a major community event… Continue reading

Gwynne Dyer
Gwynne Dyer: Independence is a one-way gate

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland declared in 2014 that the referendum… Continue reading

Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Chicago, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, tosses the ball for a serve to Ilya Ivashka, of Belarus, during the Miami Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Philadelphia Flyers' James van Riemsdyk (25) and Sean Couturier (14) celebrate past New Jersey Devils' Yegor Sharangovich (17) after a goal by van Riemsdyk during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

Most Read