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The struggle for Canadians looking to relocate during a climate crisis

By Lianne Barnes

· Advocacy Stories

Areas are being devalued due to newfound flood-risk zones, and rising sea levels and wildfires make it next to impossible to rebuild homes where they were lost.  

A new report from the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices (CICC), a federally funded research institute, revealed some shocking discoveries about the current and future state of Canada’s infrastructure last month. From private dwelling homes to public roads and powerlines, the very structures we rely on to live won’t be so strong/dependable if we (Canadians) don’t take climate reliance more seriously.  

As explained in the CICC report, “deteriorating roads and electrical grids and slow progress in modernizing transportation corridors and public transit systems are hampering business performance, trade and economic growth.” It is clear that, as we plan for more sustainable futures, both private and public developers need to start overlooking short-term financial gains and start considering long-term risks (like climate change). We need roads, homes, and other power systems that will withstand expected volatile weather.  

Flood zones due to increased rainfall and rising sea levels, amongst other temperature-related damages (tornados, hurricanes, ice storms, etc.), continue to be overlooked by government communications to affected Canadians. For example, CICC research estimates that at least half a million buildings are at risk of flooding in Canada and are currently not identified by any government-produced flood maps.  

The fact of the matter is that despite Canada having the 10th lowest population density of any country, about 12 percent of our national landmass is covered by national parks and other protected areas. Pair that with a large portion of Canada being so cold it’s unlivable, we’re a bit stuck on options to expand outwards.  

Canadians need to better understand climate risks as they prepare for their futures, especially when it comes to investing in a new home. We need more published information backed by the government, such as the CICC report. Ask your local representatives to seek information on the current and future damages to your neighborhood and infrastructure, by foreseen and unforeseen risks such as extreme weather. Nearly 60% of public infrastructure is owned by our municipalities. In considering your local representatives, as a community, or as an individual, together we need to make decisions with the consideration that the climate is changing, and educate yourselves on how it will have effects on the places we live and love.