Charlottetown offers discounts for flood protection as communities prepare for climate change
The City of Charlottetown is offering financial aid to residents who want to protect their homes from flooding.
It was one of 10 local governments across Canada to receive a 2022 climate resilience grant from the Intact Foundation, which is affiliated with Intact Public Entities, a large insurance company that works with communities.
“We were aware of the flooding issue in certain communities throughout Charlottetown,” said Alistair Ozon, the city’s water coordinator.
“It will only become a widespread risk as climate change continues to increase the number of severe weather events, storm surges and sea level rise.”
Ozon said that in a previous pilot project, he and some colleagues received special training from Waterloo University to conduct an 80-point assessment of homes in a flood-prone area of the city.
They reviewed “the type of landscaping, the basement, all the different factors that can contribute to flooding, as well as the maintenance practices,” Ozon said.
“We also offered a discount if they decided to implement any of the things we highlighted that could be improved.”
There is a lot of research on how flooding can lead to increased stress, other mental health problems and of course financial problems
– Alistair Ozon, City of Charlottetown Water Coordinator
Ozon said it was interesting to be in people’s basements and talk to residents.
“There’s a lot of research out there about how flooding can lead to increased stress, other mental health problems, and of course, financial problems,” Ozon said.
“If you just talk to residents, it’s very obvious that it’s something that can really, really impact someone’s day-to-day life.”
Post Fiona concerns
Ozon said the city received many calls from residents following Post-Tropical Storm Fiona, which saw power outages for days.
“We had many residents who might have had a good sump pump. But as soon as the power goes out, they’re down there every hour, if they don’t have a backup battery system, they bail out themselves,” Ozon said.
“Having this new rebate program in place covering these backup battery systems will hopefully reduce the need for this in the future and give some people some level of reassurance if we have another event like this.”
According to Ozon, the rebate program covers up to 75 percent of the cost, up to a maximum of $1,000, for:
repairs and replacements for existing sump pumps;
new sump pumps, back pressure valves and backup battery systems; And
some water monitoring sensors.
He said there has been a lot of interest, with 23 applications approved so far and more in the works.
They will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis through April 30 or until the program’s funding is exhausted.
Frontlines of climate change
The president of Intact Public Entities said the grants are intended to help local governments prepare for the impacts of climate change.
“Communities are at the forefront. They manage most of the public infrastructure, probably about two-thirds of the public infrastructure at all levels of government. So they play a significant role,” said Larry Ryan.
“We wanted to focus on floods and wildfires because those are the two biggest threats affecting communities.”
Ryan said there is a lot of interest in the climate resilience grants, with 150 applications narrowed down to 10, including the Charlottetown program.
“Frankly, your proposal met a lot of criteria. [It] can be implemented relatively quickly, make a difference for the homeowner and are transferrable to other communities,” said Ryan.
“So we’ve seen this one get results pretty quickly.”
Ryan said the increasing impact of climate change is reflected in the growing number and value of insurance claims.
“If you look at the year 2022, [there was] $3 billion in insurable losses across Canada. Nine of the last 11 years have made the top 10 for losses across Canada,” he said.
“Given the severity and intensity and frequency of these property damage claims and property damage claims, we felt it was imperative that we work with communities to see if we can make a difference.”