Within 75 years, Vancouver’s waterfront homes ‘will probably be starting to flood’: report

An intense storm in Metro Vancouver that caused flooding and power outages. Instagram / Josh Collins

“Basically, if you live near the waterfront, within 75 years or so, your homes will probably be starting to flood.”

That’s the warning from Christianne Wilhelmson of the Georgia Strait Alliance, a marine conservation organization that has just released a new report warning the City of Vancouver about the increasing number of people living in areas vulnerable to flooding along the waterfront.

Map of sea levels, 2016 on the left and 2100 on the right if no adaptation measures are implemented. City of Vancouver

“We are looking at a one-metre rise by 2100, so that seems like a long time away and a metre may not feel like a lot but essentially you will have the base of most residencies flooded, roads will be flooded,” Wilhelmson said.

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The number of people living in floodable areas in Vancouver has increased by 67 per cent between 2006 and 2016, she noted.

READ MORE: Lower Mainland vulnerable to significant flooding, costing billions in losses: study

Water levels of 50 to 100 cm (19-39 inches) would create considerable damage, said a City of Vancouver report.

“Water on ground floor; basements and underground parking flooded, potentially causing evacuation; electricity failed; vehicles are commonly carried off roadways,” a report reads.

In yellow map shows flood levels from 0-50cm, green depicts 50-100cm, light blue 100 to 200cm, dark blue 500+. City of Vancouver

Anything above 100 cm/39 inches would force the city to evacuate residents.

That’s how much the sea is expected to rise by 2100.

“We need to have everybody at the table who can come up with these (ideas), academics, engineers, urban planners, the city, the port, everybody at the table to start really figuring out how we can protect our infrastructure,” Wilhelmson said.

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But she said the report wasn’t solely concerned with flooding; she noted that they also found the city is losing much of its working waterfront.

“Industrial and business lands are being replaced by residential homes,” she said.

The group would like to see a process to develop policy goals and a vision for what residents want the waterfront to be.

READ MORE: Sea levels rising faster now than in past 3,000 years: study

“Without a plan, our waterfront is going to develop based on whoever can scream the loudest and that’s not the way to have a resilient and healthy waterfront.”

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The report was four years in the making and was created with the participation of 200 residents and stakeholders.

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