Municipal flood hazard mapping: the case of British Columbia, Canada

TitleMunicipal flood hazard mapping: the case of British Columbia, Canada
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsStevens, M, Hanschka, S
JournalNatural Hazards
AbstractHistorical responses to flood hazards have stimulated development in hazardous areas. Scholars recommend an alternative approach to reducing flood losses that combines flood hazard mapping with land use planning to identify and direct development away from flood-prone areas. Creating flood hazard maps to inform municipal land use planning is an expensive and complex process that can require resources not always available at the municipal government level. Senior levels of government in some countries have addressed deficiencies in municipal capacity by assuming an active role in producing municipal flood hazard maps. In other countries, however, senior governments do not contribute to municipal flood hazard mapping. Despite a large body of research on the importance of municipal land use planning for addressing flood hazards, little is known about the extent of flood hazard information that is available to municipalities that do not receive outside assistance from senior governments for flood hazard mapping. We assess the status of flood hazard maps in British Columbia, where municipalities do not receive outside assistance in creating the maps. Our analysis shows that these maps are generally outdated and/or lacking a variety of features that are critical for supporting effective land use planning. We recommend that senior levels of government play an active role in providing municipalities with (1) detailed and current information regarding flood hazards in their jurisdiction and (2) compelling incentives to utilize this information.