Climate Change Adaptation and Flood Management Strategy

The City of Moncton, New Brunswick, is coping with warmer temperatures, sea level rise, and increasing extreme weather events; these climate change impacts increase the area’s flood risk, which poses threats to the City’s residents and key infrastructure. While this work focused primarily on the potential impacts and vulnerability with respect to flooding risk, the team also considered other potential climate change hazards including heat wave/drought, forest fire, cold wave, ice storm and severe winter storm conditions. As a result, Moncton developed a proactive Climate Change Adaptation and Flood Management Strategy. The City assessed the likelihood and damage caused for various future flooding scenarios. This data informed the City’s adaptation efforts, which include introducing zero-net storm water policies and updating minimum floor elevation requirements for new buildings. Moncton is also upgrading at-risk infrastructure and encouraging the installation of back-water valves.

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

In 2010, the City of Moncton was selected to participate in the federal Regional Adaptation Collaborative (RAC) program (developed to identify and reduce the impacts of climate change). Through this partnership, a technical study, prepared by AMEC Earth and Environmental, was produced to help identify climate change trends and impacts for the Greater Moncton Area. The AMEC report identified more frequent storm events and increased risk of flooding as the main climate hazards in eastern Canada. After being presented the results of the RAC project (October 2012), Council requested that staff develop an action plan and flood management strategy by June 2013. Two key sources of data were used for this: 1. The Climate Change Adaptation Measures for Greater Moncton Area, NB report, and 2. New Brunswick’s Climate Futures data provided by the Atlantic Climate Adaptation Solutions Association. In the fall of 2012, the City of Moncton purchased rights to use emergency management software developed by the Canadian technology company Sentinel (http://www.sentinelsystems.ca/). Based on the findings of the AMEC report, the CCAC team assessed four types or potential flood scenarios for Moncton, including Scenario 1 (High tide event, 2013, 8m); Scenario 2 (1:100 year storm event, 2013, 9.3m); Scenario 3 (1:100 year storm event, with climate change to year 2100, 10.3m); and Scenario 4 (Saxby Gale event (with climate change to year 2100, 11.5m), with likelihood ratings reducing from the former to the latter. Afterwards, vulnerability and risk were assessed, which identified in what ways the city is most vulnerable to a flood event. These scenarios and risks provided a strategic approach to flood risk reduction and formed the foundation of this plan.

Table 6. Flood Scenario Risk Assessment Results: Summary of Key Impacts

Table summarizing the risk assessment results. Summary of key impacts.

Identifying Actions

This Plan was developed in order to: 1. Better understand the potential risks related to climate change, particularly with respect to more frequent and intense (or extreme) weather events, in conjunction with higher tides in the future; 2. Consider the potential impacts of climate change on City of Moncton operations, including essential services, infrastructure, facilities and assets; 3. Begin understanding the potential impacts of climate change on the community at large, from a social, cultural, economic and environmental perspective; 4. Identify the types of climate change adaptation strategies and actions that will help to manage and reduce risks associated with climate change; and 5. Identify ways in which to increase the adaptive capacity of the Corporation and the community at large.

Following the hazard and impact identification and risk and opportunity assessment, the team identified actions that the City of Moncton can take to reduce risk. These actions were reviewed and further prioritized within a Climate Change Flood Management Action schedule. It was noted that the results of the team’s risk assessment work are not based on certainty and involved having to make a number of assumptions, which are documented in the Plan, and should be reviewed and updated as new information becomes available through additional research and greater consultation with the community at large. The strategy is based on the completion of the following key steps: 1. Completion of Major Storm/Hurricane/Flood Emergency Response Plan; 2. Community Engagement; 3. Research, Planning, and Priority Setting; 4. Adaptation policies and regulations; 5. physical adaptation; 6. monitoring; 7. funding; 8. oversight and ongoing updates.

Implementation

A comprehensive flood management strategy and action plan is proposed to provide a strategic approach to flood risk reduction. The strategy is based on the completion of the following key steps: 1. Completion of Major Storm/Hurricane/Flood Emergency Response Plan; 2. Community Engagement (Education, Consultation and Partnerships); 3. Research, Planning and Priority Setting; 4. Adaptation Policies and Regulations; 5. Physical Adaptation; 6. Monitoring; 7. Funding; 8. Oversight & Ongoing Updates.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

The completion of the scenario risk assessment identified in what ways the city is most vulnerable to a flood event. These key risks point to a need to address most critically:

  • Emergency response needs during a flood event;
  • Upgrading of city infrastructure, where financially feasible, in order to reduce the potential impacts of a flood event for the community
  • Reducing potential impacts on existing private and public buildings, structures and assets and mitigating potential impacts for new constructions in flood risk areas;
  • Reducing potential impacts related to sewer-back-ups, including property damage; and
  • Financial and other options or strategies for restoration/recovery of private and public infrastructure, structures and assets following a major flood event.

The completion of the risk assessment also pointed to the need for the City to reach out to the key stakeholders and the community at large in education, consultation and partnerships. While a main interest in the development of this report was to consider the potential impacts of climate change on flood risk in the city of Moncton, the CCAC team also considered that climate change trends may also have other implications for the City, with the hope that the ideas presented will be further refined and developed into additional action plan considerations for the City. An action plan schedule is included in the plan.

Next Steps

The City of Moncton has taken a significant step in preparing this corporate climate change adaptation plan. Of particular importance is the proposed flood management strategy, which provides a course of action for the City to embark on, in order to help reduce potential impacts in the city. Factoring in climate change trends in flood management will help to ensure that measures carried out today will more properly address flood management needs well into the future. This report highlights the need for the City to reach out to key stakeholders and the community at large, with respect to flood management, as well as in respect to climate change generally. There is a need to continue to scope, confirm and update the ideas presented in this document, as better understandings of climate change develop over the coming years.