Don’t expect a bailout if you build in a flood zone

The excerpted article was written by  | Global News BC

As the winter snowpack melts and fears of spring flooding rise, Canada’s public safety minister Ralph Goodale has a “tough message” for municipalities, homeowners and businesses: build in a flood zone and you could be on your own.

“At some point, you’re going to have to say if people ignore the knowledge base and deliberately rebuild in danger zones, they are going to have to assume their own responsibility for the cost burden,” Goodale said Thursday.

Goodale made the comments in Ottawa when asked by Global News if there’s anything the federal government can do to stop municipalities from building in areas at high risk of flooding.

“After it’s happened once and then twice, and then three times, at some point the taxpayer’s patience runs out,” he said. “So there’s that clear message that has to be delivered.”

And according to Goodale, it’s municipalities that need to heed this message most.

“The right zoning decisions need to be taken,” Goodale said.

“That takes a good deal of local political courage because you’re often talking about some of the most attractive places in which to build,” he said.

“So that’s a bit of a tough message, but you can’t repeatedly go back to the taxpayer and say; oh, it happened again.”

‘Bold decisions’ to deal with flooding

While much of the funding for disaster relief and emergency management comes from the federal government, the decision to build in areas prone to flooding is “largely within the jurisdiction of provinces and municipalities,” Goodale said.

Whether to rebuild in these areas after flooding is also up to municipalities, and according to Goodale, this “very serious issue” is something communities across Canada will increasingly have to deal with as climate change takes hold and as the threat of flooding grows.

Goodale points to High River, Alta., which in June 2013 experienced devastating flooding with billions of dollars in damage, as an example of the type of decision making that’s needed to protect homes — and by extension, government finances — from the catastrophic effects caused by flooding.

According to Goodale, the community made the tough decision not to rebuild in the most high-risk areas after the 2013 floods.

“Other municipalities have not taken those bold decisions,” he said.

In addition to making “bold decisions,” Goodale said communities across Canada are benefiting from federal infrastructure spending targeted at flood relief. And while the Liberals have committed up to $2 billion to such programs, Goodale admits far more will be needed in the future.

Because, Goodale said, “the size of this problem is just very, very large.”

Billions in difficult or impossible-to-insure properties

So how big is the problem of homes and other properties built in areas prone to flooding?

According to a 2016 Parliamentary Budget Office report, flooding caused $12.5 billion in damages in Canada between 2005 and 2014 — by far the biggest cause of disaster relief spending.

The federal government’s share of paying for these disasters was nearly $3.5 billion.

But as the feds seek to get out of the business of flood relief, the notion that this level of funding will exist in the future is far from certain.

According to Craig Stewart, head of federal affairs with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the percentage of Canadian properties that are either difficult or impossible to insure because of risks from flooding is between 10 and 15 per cent. Stewart says the value of these properties is easily in the billions.

Like Goodale, he believes communities should be encouraged not to build or rebuild in areas known to be at high risk of flooding. He also thinks government bailouts for flood victims could soon be a thing of the past.

“Municipalities have been incented to build in flood planes in the past due to the tax revenue that such attractive locations afford,” Stewart said. “Now it’s all too clear what the consequences of those decisions are.”

“We believe municipalities should follow the lead of High River and revert high-risk land either to wetlands or to park areas, where it can still enjoy appropriate use, but where these people won’t be losing their possessions and homes when the next flood comes,” he said.

Stewart said Canada’s insurance industry has been working with federal and provincial governments — including conversations with Goodale’s office — on ways to provide insurance to high-risk properties. This could include a model similar to that in the United Kingdom where private insurers and governments work together to create a special class of government-backed insurance plans, he said.

Laval residents picking up the pieces after ice storm

The excerpted article was written by By  | Global News

Laval resident Josiane Lenain relied on her small basement fireplace to heat her whole house while she had no power. She said the heat emitted from it warmed her living space up to 15 degrees.

“It was chilly,” she said. “But we could tolerate it.”

What worries the retiree now, though, is the cost of cutting down damaged branches from her backyard tree.

“If a branch falls on a child or one of our neighbours, it could be terrible,” she said.

She’s waiting to hear back from her insurance company to see if it will help pay for it.

“I would prefer to get reimbursed, but I am not sure they will cover it,” she said.

As the clean up continues from the storm that paralyzed parts of Laval for days, many residents are now assessing the damage.

Liliana Antonacci lost the contents of her fridge and freezer, which she estimates was worth around $150. She spent a lot of money in restaurants while she had no power.

She says she has a $500 insurance deductible, so claiming anything isn’t worth it.

“After 35 years, you pay insurance, they don’t cover anything: the food, they don’t cover the trees, they don’t cover anything,” Antonacci said. “It’s useless.”

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says most damage from an ice storm is covered, but deductibles vary.

“Calling your insurer is the first step,” said Pierre Babinsky, of the Insurance Bureau of Canada. “You have to consider the claim you will file. If it’s mostly the contents of your fridge and you have a large deductible on your policy, you may not feel it’s worth it.”

The City of Laval isn’t offering compensation to residents for issues related to this ice storm, but a spokesman says they are offering help to residents in other ways.

“There is a bunch of stuff we do offer,” said Louise-Philippe Dorais. “Community centres, our patrol cars are on site, police on site, fire department providing help.

“We are doing the best we can.”

Laval says it made a colossal effort to help citizens during the crisis. At the height of the storm, half of Laval’s 450,000 residents lost power.

As of Thursday afternoon, around 1,000 people in Laval still had no power.

Canada’s Changing Climate Report Confirms Increase in Extreme Rainfall

OTTAWAApril 2, 2019 /CNW/ – Today, the Government of Canada released Canada’s Changing Climate Report. This first report, part of the government’s Canada in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action, provides a firm scientific foundation for future analyses and is a valuable tool for governments who are looking for ways to adapt and make their communities more resilient.

The report concludes that Canada is seeing the effects of widespread warming and projects that they will intensify in the future. Annual precipitation is projected to increase in all regions of Canada[1] and a warmer climate is expected to intensify some weather extremes. Projected increases in extreme precipitation are expected to increase the potential for future urban flooding.

The report says Canadians can expect extreme hot temperatures to become more frequent and more intense. This will increase the severity of heatwaves and contribute to increased drought and wildfire risks. While inland flooding results from multiple factors, more intense rainfalls will increase urban flood risks. Under the high emission scenario explored in this report, a current 1-in-20-year extreme rainfall event will become a 1-in-10-year event by mid-century (a two-fold increase in frequency).

The report clearly points to the need to adapt now to make our communities more resilient.

“The property and casualty insurance industry continues to see the devastating effects of this new era of an unpredictable, changing climate,” said Don Forgeron, President and CEO, IBC.

“Last year, insured damage from severe weather across Canada reached $2 billion, the fourth-highest amount of losses on record,” continued Forgeron. “However, unlike the 1998 Quebec ice storm, the 2013 Calgary floods or the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, no single event caused the high amount paid out for losses in 2018. Instead, Canadians and their insurers experienced significant losses from a host of smaller severe weather events from coast to coast.”

IBC has encouraged all levels of government to increase their investments in mitigating the impact of extreme weather and building resiliency to its damaging effects. In addition to advocating for upgraded infrastructure to protect communities from floods, IBC is also advocating for improved building codes, better land-use planning, and incentives to shift the development of homes and businesses away from areas that are at highest risk of flooding.

The storm that hit Ontario on February 24 and 25, 2019, with damaging wind gusts, freezing rain and blizzard conditions caused over $48 million in insured damage. This is just the first severe weather storm to hit Ontario in 2019. In 2018, insured losses from severe weather reached $1.3 billion in that province.

It is not only insurers that foot the bill for severe weather damage. For every dollar that insurers pay out for home and business insurance claims, IBC estimates that governments pays out $3 to recover the public infrastructure that is damaged by severe weather.

Follow us on Twitter @InsuranceBureau or like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

Insurance claims from deadly California wildfires top $11.4B

BY KATHLEEN RONAYNE,

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Insurance claims from California’s deadly November 2018 wildfires have topped $11.4 billion.

State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said Monday that more than $8 billion worth of damage comes from the fire that levelled the town of Paradise and killed 86 people. About $3 billion more is from two Southern California wildfires that ignited the same week.

The $11.4 billion is just shy of the claims filed in a series of 2017 wildfires, including deadly blazes that tore through Northern California wine country.

The Paradise wildfire destroyed about double the number of homes than the wine country fires, but property values are lower in the rural Northern California region.

Including other major California fires in July 2018, total insurance claims from the year neared $12.4 billion.

Source: The Associated Press

 

‘I don’t want a trial:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash pleads guilty

By Ryan McKenna

THE CANADIAN PRESS

MELFORT, Sask. _ The driver of a transport truck involved in a deadly crash with the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team’s bus pleaded guilty Tuesday to all charges against him.

“I plead guilty, your honour,” Jaskirat Singh Sidhu said as he stood before a judge in a court in Melfort, Sask.

Sixteen people lost their lives and 13 players were injured when Sidhu’s semi-unit loaded with peat moss and the Broncos bus collided in rural Saskatchewan last April.

Sidhu was charged with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 charges of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

“His position to me was, ‘I just want to plead guilty. I don’t want you to plea bargain. I don’t want a trial,”’ Sidhu’s lawyer, Mark Brayford, said outside court, his client beside him with his head down.

“Mr. Sidhu advised me: ‘I don’t want to make things any worse. I can’t make things any better, but I certainly don’t want to make them worse by having a trial.”’

Brayford, who recently took on the case, said more evidence still needs to be handed over to the defence, but Sidhu wanted to avoid further delays.

“He wanted the families to know that he’s devastated by the grief that he’s caused them,” Brayford said. “And he’s overwhelmed by the expressions of sympathy and kindness that some of the families and players have expressed to him in spite of the fact their grief is entirely his fault.”

Scott Thomas, whose 18-year-old son Evan died in the crash, sat near Sidhu in court and said the guilty plea meant a lot to him.

“All I’ve ever told my kids is speaking about accountability and responsibility and to hear him use his own words to plead guilty, it’s powerful,” Thomas said, fighting his emotions outside court.  “Now we can more forward with the next part of this.”

Crown lawyer Thomas Healey said he might need up to five days for a sentencing hearing, which is to begin Jan. 28, and would not be commenting until after that. The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death is 14 years. It’s 10 years for dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Michelle Straschnitzki, whose son Ryan was paralyzed in the crash, said she is worried the guilty plea will mean a lighter sentence.

“I’m glad he won’t be putting everyone through a lengthy, exhaustive and heartbreaking trial,” she told The Canadian Press. “However, I also hope that by doing so, he doesn’t get an absurdly reduced sentence as per our justice system.”

Thomas said he’s not worried about the time Sidhu could serve.

“When he said, ‘Guilty,’ to me, I have my closure,” he said.

“If he spends a day, if he spends 10 years, time is irrelevant. He was guilty. He acknowledged that. That’s all I needed to hear.

“The rest of the sentence doesn’t matter to me. It really doesn’t. It is not going to bring Evan back. I’ve got to spend the rest of my life with it. He’s got to spend the rest of his life with it.”

The Broncos were on their way to a playoff game in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League when their bus and Sidhu’s rig collided at an intersection not far from Tisdale, Sask.

The bus was travelling north on Highway 35 and the semi was westbound on Highway 335, which has a stop sign.

A safety review of the rural crossroads done by a consulting firm for the Saskatchewan government was released last month. It said sight lines are a safety concern at the spot.

A stand of trees, mostly on private property, obstructs the view of drivers approaching from the south and east the same directions the bus and semi-trailer were coming from when they collided, the review said.

It recommended negotiating with the landowner to remove the trees, and also suggested rumble strips, larger signs and painting  “Stop” and  “Stop Ahead” on the road.

The report’s authors determined that six collisions had taken place at the intersection between 1990 and 2017 and another 14 happened on roads nearby.

One of those collisions was deadly. In 1997, six people were killed when a pickup truck heading east failed to stop on Highway 335 and was hit by a southbound tractor-trailer.

In December, the Saskatchewan government further introduced mandatory training for semi-truck drivers. Starting in March, drivers seeking a Class 1 commercial licence are to undergo at least 121.5 hours of training.

Previously, Saskatchewan Government Insurance accredited driving schools but training was not mandatory.

The owner of the Calgary trucking company that hired Singh was also charged after the crash.

Sukhmander Singh of Adesh Deol Trucking faces eight charges relating to non-compliance with federal and provincial safety regulations.

IBC calling September storm, ‘likely the biggest tornado event in Canadian history

by: OttawaMatters Staff

More than 14,000 insurance claims have been made, related to tornadoes which touched down in Ottawa and Gatineau, and that number is rising.

Director of Consumer and Industry Relations with the IBC Ontario is calling the $295-million in total capital region tornado damage, unlike anything he’s ever seen.

“From the damage that I saw up in Ottawa, it appears that this will likely be the biggest event related to tornadoes, in Canadian history,” explained Pete Karageorgos.

Three twisters touched down in the region, while another three hit just north of the area back on September 21.

More than 14,000 insurance claims have been made in the aftermath, and Karageorgos expects that number to rise.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says the tornadoes in Dunrobin and Arlington Woods caused more than $192-million in damages to homes, businesses and vehicles, while more than $102-million was reported in the Gatineau area.

Karageorgos added that the IBC expects these extreme weather incidents to get worse in the future.

“Since 2009, it’s about $1-billion a year, across Canada, of damage as a result of severe weather events,” he said. “And that’s 2009 — that jumped up from previous years where it was about $400,000 a year.”

This year, Ontario alone is set to surpass the $1-billion mark.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from ILSTV

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest