Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies (MES)

Department

Geography & Environmental Studies

Program Name/Specialization

Environmental Resource Management

Faculty/School

Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Sarah Asrat

Advisor Role

Primary Researcher

Abstract

Flooding is an increasing environmental concern for many Canadian cities. There is increasing awareness of climate change and its impacts on precipitation behavior and flooding in urban areas. Knowledge gaps were identified in the literature concerning urban flood response planning, uncertainty and preparedness planning. This study examines and compares urban flood response measures and resilience building for natural disasters in the Cities of Toronto and Calgary. Non-structural measures for flood risk reduction that include policies, decision-making and community engagement were examined by conducting a literature review and semi-structured interviews of individuals from six groups: provincial government, municipal government, conservation authority, private sector, academics and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). A total of twenty-eight recruited participants from the two cities provided information on a wide range of experiences of flood management practices related to vulnerabilities, uncertainties and possible conflict in flood response planning. The literature review explored different flood response measures such as planning, emergency management, and post-flood recovery, and examined how cities can build resilience to natural disasters. Background literature was used to assess flood response measures in Toronto and Calgary. The data show that Toronto and Calgary are quite distinct cities and have specified commonalities and differences in flood response measures. Common resilience planning priorities in Toronto and Calgary to urban floods included reducing flood impacts, mitigating climate change, implementing adaptation strategies to cope with future flooding, by developing preparedness kits for homes, building partnerships among organizations to share expertise; and building networks among community members to enhance emergency response, updating flood maps and creating more permeable surfaces. Differences of flood planning strategies indicated that Toronto has effective policies and has a conservation authority that works closely with the provincial and municipal government regulating preventive flood hazard strategies to ensure long-term sustainable and resilient building to help alleviate future flood impacts. Case study results indicated that Calgary does not have this type of regulating agency and flood protection policies, which have resulted in prolonged developments in flood hazardous zones increasing exposure to flood risks. Interview results noted flood management practices in Calgary focus more on structural flood response measures and that there needs to be less reliance on infrastructure. Therefore, research findings recommend effective policy development, collaborative planning, education and awareness programs for citizens to acknowledge the seriousness of flood impacts and to encourage the necessary behavioral changes to enhance pre-disaster and preparedness planning.

Convocation Year

2015

Convocation Season

Fall