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Flood Management Resources

Here are reports and other resources developed for those with flood management responsibilities or interests within BC municipalities and regional districts (with a principal focus on the Lower Mainland), First Nations communities, the Province of British Columbia, Canada and international jurisdictions.

See also:


Flood investigations report

Featured: Investigations in Support of Flood Strategy Development in BC

The Investigations in Support of Flood Strategy Development in British Columbia initiative was a multi-year project – completed in 2021 – to help various governments and other organizations better understand current challenges and opportunities for a wide range of flood management issues in BC.

Between 2019 and 2021, consulting teams reviewed over 40 flood-related issues, including those related to flood governance, hazard and risk assessment, planning, structural and non-structural mitigation, forecasting, emergency response and recovery, and funding and resources.

The initiative was supported by funding from the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. The Fraser Basin Council (FBC) managed and coordinated the projects as well as the overall initiative.

Key recommendations from the projects fall under eight general categories:

  • Facilitate training, education and knowledge sharing
  • Improve data, information and tools
  • Develop vision and targets
  • Strengthen guidelines and standards
  • Support integrated flood management approaches
  • Facilitate collaboration
  • Provide strategic and comprehensive funding
  • Adapt organizational roles and responsibilities

All projects point to the need for enhanced funding, capacity and governance for more effective flood management, including in the development of foundational information tools, flood management planning and emergency response planning, and implementation of flood mitigation measures.

The Summary Report (July, 2021), prepared by the Fraser Basin Council, summarizes the context and key findings and recommendations from the 11 projects within this initiative.

Reports, Guides and Other Flood Management Resources

Disaster Recovery

Recovery Guide for Local Authorities and First Nations

A 2022 guide from the Province of BC (EMBC) to guide local authorities and First Nations as they plan for postdisaster recovery.

Local Flood Management, Coastal Adaptation and Resilience Plans

City of Surrey Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy (CFAS)

The City of Surrey spent over three years developing a Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy, which was awarded the Climate and Energy Action Award by the Community Energy Association, for leadership on climate resilience. (City of Surrey, 2019).

City of Vancouver Coastal Flood Risk Assessment & City of Vancouver Coastal Flood Risk Assessment Phase II Final Report

A multi-year effort was undertaken to better understand coastal risk in the City of Vancouver in relation to sea-level change and coastal storm surge. Phase I involved foundational modelling and exploratory work to identify and quantify the people, property, services, infrastructure and environment at risk from sea-level rise in Vancouver. Phase II outlined a number of specific, distinct alternatives that could be implemented in 11 potentially at-risk zones to mitigate the impacts of sea-level rise. It deployed a scenario-based, multi-attribute approach to characterize the trade-offs of each alternative in each zone, using a mixture of quantitative and qualitative measures.(City of Vancouver, 2014 & 2015).

City of Vancouver Coastal Adaptation Plan: Fraser River Foreshore

The plan is part of the City of Vancouver’s work in managing coastal flood risk: addressing the Fraser River flood hazard area, which is the area most vulnerable to flooding in Vancouver. (City of Vancouver, 2018).

City of Richmond Flood Protection Management Strategy 2019

The Flood Protection Management Strategy (2019) updates the City of Richmond’s 2008-2031 Strategy, which is a guiding framework for continual upgrades and improvements to the City’s flood protection system. The 2019 Strategy has been updated to reflect current science and provides the next steps to establish a world-class flood protection system for the City of Richmond. (City of Richmond, 2019).

District of Squamish Integrated Flood Hazard Management Plan (IFHMP)

Following a three-year process, including extensive technical work and community engagement, the District Council adopted the IFHMP in October 2017. The final IFHMP includes recommendations for structural flood protection (i.e., dike) improvements and adoption of a comprehensive flood management policy framework. (District of Squamish, 2017).

North Shore Sea Level Rise Strategy

The District of North Vancouver, City of North Vancouver, District of West Vancouver, Squamish Nation, Port of Vancouver and North Shore Emergency Management are collaborating to create a sea level rise strategy for their communities.

Green Waterfront Design: Charrette Report

This report considers an interdisciplinary exploration of how shifts in land use and building design could support community resilience to sea-level rise, focusing on green infrastructure and opportunities to protect and restore coastal ecosystems and maintain the value of natural shorelines. (West Coast Environmental Law, 2015).

City of Grand Forks Recovery to Resilience

The community of Grand Forks was affected by catastrophic spring flooding in 2018. The community has since used the window of recovery to implement long-term risk reduction measures, such as moving homes out of flood hazard areas and restoring natural floodplain functioning (i.e., strategic retreat). Information regarding the ongoing recovery and risk reduction efforts can be found at the following Recovery to Resilience site. (Grand Forks, 2020).

Emergency Planning Secretariat

The Emergency Planning Secretariat supports 31 mainland Coast Salish First Nations communities in flood planning from Yale to Squamish to Tsawwassen. The Secretariat’s website lists resources for flood risk reduction and emergency preparedness.

Indigenous Community Disaster Resilience

Recovery Guide for Local Authorities and First Nations

A 2022 guide from the Province of BC (EMBC) to guide local authorities and First Nations as they plan for postdisaster recovery.

Justice Institute website

Indigenous Services Canada website

Provincial Guidance: Hazard and Risk Mapping, Hazard Area Land Use Planning, Diking & Flood Protection Infrastructure and 
Emergency Preparedness Resources

Get your family prepared for flood emergencies with advice from Prepared BC

Check the BC River Forecast Centre for flood warnings and advisories across BC.

Ensure your cellphone or wireless device is compatible with Alert Ready, Canada’s emergency alerting system. In BC, the system is currently reserved for tsunami warnings only. It may be used for other emergencies in the future.

Prepared BC: Guide for Small Businesses. 

Access this concise (16-page) guide, which includes a template to develop an emergency plan. (Emergency Management BC, 2017).

Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines 

This document provides guidelines intended to help local governments, land use managers and approving officers develop and implement land use management plans and make subdivision approval decisions for flood hazard areas. (BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, 2004).

  • Amendment: 3.2.6, (August 2011) focuses on dam upgrading and/or development restrictions that are necessary if a development proposal increases the dam’s Downstream Consequence Classification per Schedule 1 of the BC Dam Safety Regulation.
  • Amendment: 3.5 and 3.6 (January 2018) incorporates sea-level rise into the determination of building setbacks and flood construction levels in coastal areas.

Flood-Related Professional Practice Guidelines from Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (EGBC)
The association that represents professional engineers and geoscientists across the province has two professional practice guidelines related to flooding.

Flood Mapping in BC: Professional Practice Guidelines V1.0
These guidelines are designed to assist professionals in developing flood maps in a consistent manner, incorporating best practices. They are intended to provide a common level of expectation for various stakeholders with respect to the level of effort, due diligence and standard of practice to be followed when carrying out flood mapping in the province. (EGBC, 2017).

Legislated Flood Assessments in a Changing Climate in BC
These guidelines were written to guide professional practice for flood assessments, identify the circumstances when risk assessments are appropriate, and emphasize the need to consider climate change and land use changes in such assessments. (EGBC, 2018).

Guidance on Flood Protection Dikes
The Government of BC outlines many resources for dike design, construction, management and maintenance via their Dike Management page.

Lower Mainland Dike Assessment 
This assessment covers 74 dikes in the Lower Mainland. It evaluated the level of protection provided by the dikes and identified major deficiencies. (BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, 2015).

Guidelines for Management of Flood Protection Works in BC
This document was prepared to consolidate and summarize practices regarding the management of flood protection works in British Columbia. The purpose was to assist Diking Authorities and flood protection professionals in fulfilling dike safety requirements as legislated under the BC Dike Maintenance Act. It outlines the following for flood protection works in the province: legislation and regulatory controls, approvals and controls under the Dike Maintenance Act, standards for new flood protection works, management of flood protection works, contingency emergency planning, emergency measures, and major repairs and replacement. (BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, 1999).

Seismic Design Guidelines for Dikes: 2nd Edition 
This document provides guidelines for consideration of seismic stability and integrity of the “High Consequence Dikes” in southwestern British Columbia and Vancouver Island, with the intent to provide flood protection for the densely populated urban communities and regional infrastructure. Guidelines are provided on:

  • Seismic ground motions to be considered for the analysis and design of dikes along with corresponding performance expectations;
  • Suitable geotechnical investigation methods to characterize and obtain engineering properties of the site soils;
  • Commonly used methods for seismic analysis considered appropriate for dikes;
  • Seismic rehabilitation and strengthening measures;
  • Threshold seismic events that should trigger a post-event evaluation of the integrity of the dike system; and
  • Post-earthquake temporary emergency repair and permanent remediation measures. (Golder Associates for the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, 2014).

Guidance on Climate Change
The Government of BC has developed several documents to provide guidance regarding flood management and climate change.

Climate Change Adaptation Guidelines for Sea Dikes and Coastal Flood Hazard Land Use Sea Dike Guidelines
This document provides guidelines for the design of sea dikes to protect low-lying lands exposed to coastal flood hazards arising from their exposure to the sea and to expected sea-level rise due to climate change. This document supersedes the related sections of the existing “Dike Design and Construction Guide 2003”, published by the Government of BC. It provides guidelines intended to assist diking authorities, design professionals and others in fulfilling dike design requirements as legislated under the BC Dike Maintenance Act. It presents design standards relating to sea-level rise and consequential aspects in a generalized form only. Application of this information for specific projects, which include new, repaired, upgraded or changed sea dikes, requires site-specific design and expert advice. (Ausenco Sandwell for the BC Ministry of Environment, 2011).

Cost of Adaptation Report – Sea Dikes & Alternative Strategies
This report provides an estimate of the cost to construct flood protection to meet a one-metre rise in sea level projected by the year 2100. The study area includes Fraser River and coastal flood hazard areas west of the Port Mann Bridge. (Delcan for the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, 2012).

Sea Level Rise Adaptation Primer 
A resource for coastal management authorities (mainly local governments) to help identify and evaluate options for adapting to the impacts of sea-level rise and associated hazards. The Primer is intended to be relevant for southern coastal regions across Canada with application to British Columbia, Québec, and the Atlantic region (Arlington Group et al. for the BC Ministry of Environment, 2013).

Federal Emergency Preparedness Resources

Flood Ready

This federal site contains several links to information that support personal/property-level and community-level flood preparedness.

National-Scale Guidance 

Best practices for reducing the risk of future damage to homes from riverine and urban flooding: A report on recovery and rebuilding in southern Alberta

The Insurance Bureau of Canada asked the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction to prepare this report on actions the Government of Alberta could take to reduce the risk of flood damage to homes in the province after the catastrophic floods experienced in 2013. The report outlines a number of recommendations in two categories: reducing the risk of riverine flood damage and reducing the risk of urban flood damage. (Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, 2013).

Federal Flood Mapping Guidelines Series 

In consultation with provincial and territorial partners and key stakeholders, the federal government developed new documents in the Federal Flood Mapping Guidelines Series. These are a series of evergreen guidelines that will help advance flood mapping activities across Canada. The publication of these documents is intended to contribute to better addressing overland flooding — Canada’s costliest hazard — by strengthening flood mapping across the country. The site includes links to: a Bibliography of Best Practices and References for Flood Mitigation and Case Studies on Climate Change in Floodplain Mapping. (Government of Canada, 2019).

Priorities for Advancing Flood Resiliency in Canada

In 2014 interviews, stakeholders identified three winning conditions that would help reduce the risk of flood. (University of Waterloo Partners for Action, 2014).

  • Canadians must understand the risk that flooding presents to their homes, businesses, and communities;
  • Canadian decision makers must use their understanding of flood risk to make sound adaptation decisions; and,
  • Canadians must have options to transfer flood risks that remain after they have put adaptation strategies in place.

Emergency Management Strategy for Canada: Toward a Resilient 2030

US: Examples of Plans, Guidelines and Regional Approaches 

Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptation for Future Environments 

After Hurricane Katrina, an initiative was undertaken to foster grassroots conversations with residents in community about the challenges of relocation and the changing coastlines. The result was a regional adaptation strategy: Our Land and Water: A Regional Approach to Adaptation. (LA SAFE, 2019).

New York’s Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines, Version 3.0. 

These guidelines outline resilient design considerations for managing increases in temperature, precipitation and sea level. They also provide a toolkit for a resilient design process, including: an exposure screening tool, a risk assessment methodology, and a benefit-cost analysis methodology. (New York City, 2019).

Regional Resilience Primer 

The Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) spent four years focusing on regional resilience-related efforts in the United States. This is the first of several publications designed to share that understanding of the critical components of successful regional approaches, what has happened to date, and the promising practices they have seen in working with regional climate change adaptation partners throughout the US. (Institute for Sustainable Communities, 2015).

San Francisco Sea Level Rise Action Plan 

This Action Plan establishes a vision, goals and guiding principles for the sea-level rise (SLR) resiliency program. This plan is based on the latest climate science presented in the “Guidance for Incorporating Sea Level Rise into Capital Planning in San Francisco” (i.e., The CPC Guidance) and sets an aggressive agenda for further analysis, adaptation planning and implementation. It notes the similarities between earthquake planning and SLR planning. (City and County of San Francisco, 2016).