Weathering the storm

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The University of Waterloo and Intact Financial have partnered up to weather-harden cities to the extreme weather resulting from climate change.


In launching the nationwide initiative, Intact Financial will prioritize the implementation of 20 initiatives from the Climate Change Adaptation Projects (CCAP) that emerged from CCAP’s 2012 report. The  report outlined a list of priorities and recommendations to help communities, specifically cities, adapt to climate change.


The first phase of the project, which UW was also involved in, was to identify the priority projects for climate change adaptation across the country.


Gilles Gratton, vice-president of corporate communications for Intact Financial, said, “One of the areas that was identified was urban areas.”


Intact Financial has been associated with UW for about four years. UW got involved with Intact Financial when Prof. Blair Feltmate, chair of climate change adaptation, submitted a “very innovative project” four or five years ago, Gratton added.


Gratton said that as an insurance company they see first-hand the financial costs of extreme weather. He added that, in working with coal mines, they see how the industry contributes to climate change.


“Climate change is causing serious damage. One of the concerns in our report was the state of our urban infrastructure,” Gratton said. “In the second phase, the projects we put forward are there to minimize the impact of precipitation on municipal infrastructure.”


According to Gratton, the cost of damage related to severe weather events for industry has amounted to about $1 billion a year, and last year it amounted to a record $2 billion.


Gratton said the focus on flooding is warranted, particularly after the flash floods that occurred in Toronto last summer, and the record rainfall that left the province of Alberta, specifically the City of Calgary, in a state of emergency.  Events like these have resulted in a “record level of damage,” Gratton said.


Besides focusing on urban areas, the nationwide initiative to encourage climate change adaptation will focus and prioritize the problems that arise from coastal erosion, and will also launch an education campaign to educate Canadians on steps they can take to adapt their properties to climate change.