This article was originally published in UBC Okanagan News.
While infrastructure clean-up and repairs continue across the province after the extreme weather events of 2021, UBC Okanagan researchers have created measures to help municipalities mitigate damage from future climate-related disasters.
“Communities across British Columbia have established strong policies and strategies to prepare and limit damage due to these extreme events, but policies related to post-disaster management are still in their infancy,” says Sadia Ishaq, a doctoral candidate in UBCO’s School of Engineering and lead author of a new paper that examines municipal risk management strategies.
Climate change is attributed to anthropogenic activities and is characterized by a rise in temperature, rainfall and drought, explains Ishaq. The effects of climate change are a precursor for a large number of natural disasters, particularly floods, which can cause substantial damage.
In Canada, flooding is the costliest natural disaster and insurance damages from floods exceed $1 billion a year.
In BC, floods are recognized as one of the most common hazards and municipal authorities have the primary responsibility for flood risk management, Ishaq says. That risk management includes establishing flood resilience through infrastructure, mitigation and preparation measures.
Ishaq, working alongside civil engineering professor Rehan Sadiq’s team of researchers, reviewed the policies and local regulations of 22 organizations in the Okanagan Valley. The goal was to develop recommendations and best practices to improve flood resilience of these communities.
“Being flood-resilient when it comes to policy-making means these organizations are becoming more effective when they need to implement a communities’ adaptation and recovery from unexpected disasters,” she says. “This allows them to focus their efforts on people as well as infrastructure in the moment.”
Together with partner municipalities, regional districts and First Nations communities, the researchers examined opportunities to strengthen flood resilience through policy-making.
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