Natural Disasters: Should residents of at-risk areas be relocated?
The displacement of people from areas prone to natural disasters is an issue that also applies to municipal governments. (Archives)
The damage caused by Storm Fiona has revived the idea of a possible displacement of residents from at-risk areas.
Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault seems to be considering this option. He said residents of communities prone to natural disasters brought on by global warming may have to consider moving.
If we know an area is going to be flooded or very prone to hurricanes, is it reasonable for us as governments – not just the federal government, but also other levels of government – to work with people, to maybe move them? he wondered in a CBC interview.
What we don't necessarily have at this point is the analysis required to be able to anticipate where these natural disasters will occur. But we may have to tell people, “Your industry is very prone to these disasters and you better move on,” he explained.
That said, can we force people to move? I mean, urban planning is not a federal jurisdiction, obviously, the minister pointed out.
The federal government is expected to publish its National Adaptation Strategy in just under a month, ahead of the UN COP27 conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Storm Fiona caused a lot of damage in Port aux Basques.
But the idea of displacement is already making waves in some communities hit by post-tropical storm Fiona in the Atlantic provinces and Quebec.
Not the whole community has to move, of course, said Brian Button, mayor of the town of Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, which has seen many homes destroyed or washed away by the sea.
“For a lot of people, there's nothing left here. Their house was destroyed, their property was destroyed. They don't want to live here anymore.
— Brian Button, Mayor of Port aux Basques
The federal Department of the Environment recently acknowledged that it spent most of the $3.3 billion it had allocated on disaster mitigation.
For his part, Ryan Ness of the Canadian Climate Institute pointed out that much more money will have to be spent each year to protect Canadians and their families. goods against the disastrous effects of climate change.
[Federal] funding comes from taxpayer dollars. An increase in disasters and reconstruction means more taxes or less services. This is the compromise. A slowing economy also leads to fewer jobs, he said.
For every dollar you spend to proactively adapt, you can save up to $15 in avoided damage costs, he illustrated.
With information from CBC