Ants vs. Elephants


by Harleen Kaur Dhillon

Too Small to Fail.

How do we protectCanadian communities from floods?

A a report published in early November by Dr. Blair Feltmate and Anna Fluder of Intact Centre for Climate Change Adaptation at UW hopes to help.

The report focuses on methods of mitigating the effects of floods on a small, community level.

The report offers two recommendations: the need to engage local stakeholders throughout a project’s life-cycle, to build ongoing understanding and support for the project, and the need to ensure vigilance in monitoring a project, enabling appropriate and timely changes in course correction.

Partnering and community engagement and monitoring and adjusting were determined as key points in the lifecycle of a community project.

Small scale operations were found useful because of their agility and adaptability.

The failure of large-scale operations can be catastrophic, a small-scale project helps to mitigate effects of floods with less risk.

These conclusions are also important for insurance payouts and damages.

“In recent years we have seen a dramatic rise in insurable losses related to extreme weather events in Canada, and we have seen insurance payouts average $1.8 billion over the past nine years, up from an average of $400 million just a decade prior,” Feltmate said.

“The increase in costs is due in part to flooding, and this new report identifies some practical mitigation measures municipalities and NGOs can take to limit the impacts of bigger storms that we expect to see in coming years.”

The report based its conclusions on the findings of 11 separate projects across Canada from 2012-2017 that ranged in purpose from education to implementation and education.

Each project demonstrated flexibility.

“Collaborative approaches to reducing flood risk [can] be easily replicated thus they are scalable in communities across the country. If future projects are deployed on scale, the additive benefits could materially reduce the costs of flooding at the provincial and federal levels,” the report states.

Flexibility is also important because different communities have vastly different ecosystems, all of which hold equal importance in the health and resilience of a community.

The report quoted Timothy Lane, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada, saying: “Climate systems, like economic systems, are complicated: the forces at work can interact in unforeseen ways, so there are some significant unknowns.

But these unknowns are all the more reason to act, especially if they imply even a small risk of a truly catastrophic outcome.”


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