False Creek and Granville Island among areas Vancouver is preparing for climate change floods

Vancouver city council is reviewing a bylaw change in preparation for rising sea levels and an increased risk of floods due to climate change.

According to a report scheduled for debate on July 9, planners are recommending the city raise flood construction levels in several low-lying areas designated as flood plains.

Those include a large section of False Creek, Granville Island, part of Kitsilano Beach, and much of South Vancouver along the Fraser River.

“The current and anticipated impacts of climate change will affect the City in many ways,” the report states. “Sea level rise will continue to increase flood risk along the City coastline.”

It continues: “To address increasing flood risk, buildings built today should be designed for flood resilience throughout their lifespan. City flood-proofing standards require revision to incorporate anticipated sea level rise in line with new Provincial guidelines and current scientific consensus.”

A map produced by the City of Vancouver notes areas susceptible to rising sea levels and increased risks of flooding.
City of Vancouver

Planners are recommending a building bylaw be amended to increase the flood construction level (FCL) for flood plains by roughly one metre, to 4.6 metres.

The change is described as "proactive" and designed to avoid potentially greater infrastructure costs down the line. It would only concern new projects and not be retroactive. A revised FCL is projected to provide for “flood resilience” to the year 2100.

The report notes that “flood-related impacts of climate change are causing billions of dollars in damage”. It cites recent storms in Calgary and Manhattan as examples.

“Current flood risk in the City of Vancouver is manageable but with observed and projected trends in sea level rise…the risk is anticipated to increase significantly during the lifespan of buildings being developed now,” it states.

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