The director of the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance at Dalhousie University says provinces need to do more to mitigate the impact of flooding, by forcing residents to make tough decisions.
“We need to take a medium-term view, work with the communities and get people out of flood-prone areas,” says Dr. Kevin Quigley.
But how can provinces encourage people to get out of certain areas that are becoming more and more accustomed to devastating flooding?
New Brunswick is one of the provinces dealing with a massive deluge of water. Premier Blaine Higgs told a press conference Tuesday that there needs to be a deeper look into the issue.
“We’ve got to look seriously at the impacts that we’re seeing with changing weather conditions and how we evaluate building sites, and how we encourage people to actually relocate.”
François Legault, Quebec’s premier, announced an accumulative compensation plan capped at $100,000 for residents in that province, and then a form of buyout plan.
“It means if people ask for some money in the next three, five, ten years, there will be an accumulative amount of $100,000,” Legault told reporters Tuesday. “When the accumulative amount will be reached, then we’ll offer a maximum of $200,000 to move to another house.”
Quigley says a buyout incentive is a good idea, but it needs a lot of thought and community consultation.
“You could buy a lot of properties that are going to sit empty and going to be vulnerabilities and environmental problems and health and safety problems in other ways for the government, they own a bunch of properties,” he said.
Quigley added that better urban planning is needed along with “building robust infrastructure.”
While acknowledging many people have long-enjoyed living on the water, the risks are increasing with the impact of climate change, according to Quigley.
Last year the New Brunswick Liberal Party required some property owners to prove they took steps to help mitigate flood risks from impacting their homes.
Higgs said the idea of permits should be looked at, but nothing is finalized.
“We have to work with that with individuals because they’re going to have trouble getting insurance,” he said. “We have to plan a different profile going forward.”
Quigley says more and more data is becoming available about flooding impacts, meaning insurance policies can be better implemented but need to be regulated by the government.
“If we know it’s predictable enough, then we can ask people to pay for the real cost of the property that they’re occupying,” he says.