A Comparison of Post-Disaster Experiences in Two Canadian Riverine Communities: Evaluating Managed Retreat as a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
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Natural hazards pose a significant risk to local economies, critical infrastructure and public health and safety. Climate change compounds this risk by introducing a new existential threat to Canadian riverine communities, amplifying the risks of flooding for homeowners. Ensuring the long-term sustainability of communities requires the implementation of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction strategies. Managed retreat – the act of purchasing, demolishing and/or relocating homes that are under the threat of flooding - is one of the few government-supported policy options that are available to Quebec homeowners facing repeated long-term flood-damage, through the General Indemnity and Financial Assistance Program Regarding Actual or Imminent Disasters - Flooding. An alternative policy option, which is available in Ontario, is the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians (DRAO) program that is used to aid homeowners in repairing, cleaning and replacing damaged essential property (Government of Ontario, 2016). The 2017 and 2019 Ottawa River floods, which affected both Constance Bay, Ontario and Pointe Gatineau, Quebec, indicated the need for increased government assistance for homeowners to cope with flood related events. Effective policy deployment in both jurisdictions, along with future support and retreat options for homeowners, could be offered in advance to help mitigate flood disaster risks. This research adopts the protect, accommodate, retreat and avoid (PARA) framework in the context of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. This approach allows for the examination of the perspectives of different stakeholders who have vested economic, political and social interests in Canadian flood related disasters. Semi-structured interviews provided insights into why different policies were created in Ontario and Quebec (despite sharing a common river and flood risks), how the policy deployment strategy that followed the 2017/2019 floods evolved, and how the policies prompted homeowners to make the decision to retreat or rebuild. This research provides insights into flood adaptation strategies that are cost effective and highlights the successes and challenges associated with government-sponsored home buyout and disaster recovery assistance programs. This research is intended to assist policy makers to make informed, evidence-based decisions that can protect communities from inundation risks and build long-term resilience against flood hazards.
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Shaieree Cottar (2020). A Comparison of Post-Disaster Experiences in Two Canadian Riverine Communities: Evaluating Managed Retreat as a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/16437