2013-04 Floodplain News Release

For the complete news release, click here.

For immediate release

Multi-Stakeholder Workshop Generates Action Plan for Floodplain Mapping

Vancouver, BC – April 18, 2013.  The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) today published its Floodplain Maps Action Plan following its March 8, 2013 multi-stakeholder workshop on floodplain maps. With 69 per cent of existing floodplain maps available online from the provincial government being 20 to 25 years old, outdated floodplain maps compromise the ability of decision makers to effectively assess and manage flood risks, putting BC communities in jeopardy.

"Flooding poses catastrophic risks to BC's economic vitality, safety, environment, property owners and communities, so flood protection is an important issue for the Association," said BCREA Chief Executive Officer Robert Laing. "By working with other stakeholders, we wanted to generate consensus around key actions to update existing floodplain maps and keep them current."

Nearly 70 decision makers and practitioners involved with flood management, land use and emergency management attended the March 8 workshop in Vancouver. Attendees expressed their shared concerns for BC communities and discussed technical, financial and political perspectives in terms of challenges and opportunities.

"The floodplain maps workshop fits right into our fresh water sustainability grant focus area," said Kelly Lerigny, Chair of the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, which financially supported the event. "Coupled with the fact that there was such a wide range of stakeholders involved, we were excited to fund the workshop and help make the Action Plan possible."

The event was also supported by Simon Fraser University's ACT (Adaptation to Climate Change Team). "Up-to-date information is essential if we are to adequately plan and prepare for the impacts of climate change," said ACT Executive Director Deborah Harford. "BC needs current floodplain maps that incorporate climate change projections to ensure the well-being of our citizens and our economy."

A floodplain map is a tool that shows areas that are subject to high flood hazard, and they help form the foundation on which many decisions are made about how and where communities grow. There are currently 87 existing floodplain maps available through the BC Ministry of Environment website. Experts recommend that floodplain maps should be updated every ten years.

"If we don't know what the risks are, we can't adapt to changes in the environment. Climate change is one thing, but since the plans were last updated, we've also seen dramatic population growth, and changes to the actual contours of rivers," said Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board. "If we act now, BC communities can protect homes and businesses, and save a tremendous amount of future heartbreak and expense."

Key points in the Action Plan include creating a Working Group to move the actions in the plan forward; assessing the capacity of local governments to update floodplain maps; recommending that the provincial government take back responsibility for floodplain mapping, with maps being updated every ten years; expand the scope of the Flood Protection Program to include technical studies and leverage funds to create a province-wide plan to complete floodplain mapping.

The Floodplain Maps Action Plan can be found here: www.bcrea.bc.ca/docs/floodplainmaps_action_plan.

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For more information, please contact: 

Damian Stathonikos
Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Direct: 604.742.2793
Mobile: 778.990.1320

BCREA represents 11 member real estate boards and their approximately 18,000 REALTORS® on all provincial issues, providing an extensive communications network, standard forms, economic research and analysis, government relations, applied practice courses and continuing professional education (cpe).

To demonstrate the profession’s commitment to improving Quality of Life in BC communities, BCREA supports policies that encourage economic vitality, provide housing opportunities, respect the environment and build communities with good schools and safe neighbourhoods.

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