27 Feb, 2017

Climate Change, Floods, and Municipal Risk Sharing in Canada

New paper from the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance looks at how cities can reduce exposure to flood risk caused by climate change.

Toronto, February 28, 2017 – As extreme weather events become more prevalent, water-related losses have surpassed fire and theft as the main source of property insurance claims. Flooding is now the most costly hazard in terms of urban property damage. Yet, the capacity of municipalities to anticipate and mitigate flood damages has diminished.

The new IMFG paper Climate Change, Floods, and Municipal Risk Sharing in Canada, part of an ongoing series on climate change and cities, looks at tools available to cities to reduce their exposure to such risks. It reviews local policy options for sharing the responsibility of risk reduction and burden of costs.

The focus on sharing risk is urgent. Whereas other levels of government can spread the costs of flooding across a wider and deeper tax base, municipalities have less capacity to absorb the financial shock of floods, the costs of which displace other important priorities. The paper’s analysis shows that Canadian cities can do much more to reduce municipal exposure to flood risk.

About the Authors

Daniel Henstra is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Waterloo. His research centres on public administration and public policy, with a focus on emergency management, climate adaptation, and flood risk governance. Within these subject areas, he investigates multilevel policy processes involving federal, provincial, and municipal governments, and the complex, networked relationships among elected officials, public servants, stakeholders, and the public.

Jason Thistlethwaite is Assistant Professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED) at the University of Waterloo. His research focuses on the financial risks of climate change, natural disasters, and extreme weather. His recent work explores the role of insurance and government risk management in promoting climate change adaptation and reducing economic vulnerability at the local level.

About the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG)

The Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance is a research hub and think tank that focuses on the fiscal and governance challenges facing large cities and city-regions. It is located within the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

For more information, please contact:

Selena Zhang | Manager, Programs and Research

Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance, University of Toronto

selena.zhang@utoronto.ca | 416-978-2168