Intact Financial and University of Waterloo Launch Nationwide Effort to Weather-Harden Cities

Date July 29, 2014

Implementation of 20 demonstration projects across Canada, including Nova Scotia, will help communities adapt to climate change and extreme weather

HALIFAX, July 29, 2014 /CNW/ - Intact Financial Corporation and the University of Waterloo today announced a national initiative involving the implementation of 20 climate change adaptation projects designed to reduce the physical, financial and social impacts of extreme weather events. In Nova Scotia, the Ecology Action Centre will create a "living shorelines" demonstration site near Halifax, integrated with a rain garden project on the same site.

The frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events – from the floods in Southern Alberta and Toronto to the December ice storm in Central and Eastern Canada – are increasing, causing billions of dollars in damage to infrastructure, businesses and homeowners.

"Climate change is a reality, and the events of the last year clearly demonstrate the need to weather-harden our communities, our infrastructure and our homes," said Dr. Blair Feltmate, chair of the Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP) at the University of Waterloo.

The 20 demonstration projects were selected from 75 submissions made by conservation authorities and non-governmental organizations from across the country. The projects, which will be carried out in Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec, are aimed at showcasing viable and cost-effective adaptation solutions that ultimately will be replicated in communities across the country.

The projects emerged from CCAP's 2012 report that outlined a roadmap of priorities and recommendations to adapt to climate change. They will focus primarily on reducing the impact of torrential precipitation on municipal infrastructure through the restoration of urban wetlands and water channels, and the deployment of green infrastructure initiatives such as rain gardens, bio-swales and permeable surface parking lots and roadways.  

Projects will also focus on efforts to limit coastal erosion in proximity to major cities. In addition to adaptation applied to infrastructure, education campaigns will promote practical measures that homeowners can engage around their homes to help stop basement flooding.

"As a society, Canada must adapt to the new climate reality, and ensure that our cities, communities, infrastructure and buildings are resilient to extreme weather," said Alan Blair, Senior Vice-President of the Atlantic Division at Intact Insurance. "This is a multi-stakeholder endeavour and we are thankful to the governmental agencies, NGOs and consumers that will participate in these projects. Together we will foster adaptation initiatives that will allow Canadians to better adapt to our changing climate."

The Ecology Action Centre's "living shorelines" project will show people how to plant buffers of native, salt tolerant plants and to rebuild soil health, which are approaches that are more resilient to sea level rise, storm surges and coastal erosion than conventional methods such as rock walls.

Since many coastal properties face the dual risk of flooding and erosion, rain gardens will also be built. These gardens absorb and filter stormwater, which can protect homes from flooding and prevent pollutants from entering adjacent watercourses. With rain gardens, every property owner can do something tangible and effective to help manage stormwater. 

"Our projects are helping people to change their relationship with water," said Jennifer Graham, Coastal Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre. "The living shorelines site engages people in understanding coastal change and managing erosion on their properties. Rain gardens act as marine protective areas because they not only provide flood protection, but also keep our coasts and oceans healthy."  

"Preparing for climate change is non-negotiable if we are to avoid management by disaster scenarios. Extreme weather events will continue to increase in frequency and magnitude," Feltmate said. "Adaptation is the only means to avoid financial and social costs that will otherwise be borne by all levels of government, industry and consumers."

The Climate Change Adaptation Project – funded in full by a grant from Intact Foundation and launched in 2010 – focuses on how Canada can adapt to climate change. The 80 experts who contributed to the project come from diverse backgrounds including academia, law, banking, insurance, NGOs, Aboriginal communities, utilities and more. The full report can be found here:

About the University of Waterloo

In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 34,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, visit

About Intact Financial Corporation

Intact Financial Corporation ( is the largest provider of property and casualty insurance in Canada.  Intact offers home, auto and business insurance through Intact Insurance, belairdirect, Grey Power, Jevco and BrokerLink.


SOURCE Intact Financial Corporation

Media Contacts, Dr. Blair Feltmate, Chair, Climate Change Adaptation Project, University of Waterloo, 519-888-4567 ext. 38981,; Nick Manning, Director of Media Relations and Issues Management, University of Waterloo, 519-888-4451, 226-929-7627,; Janice Audas, Director, Business Development & Communications, Intact Insurance, Atlantic Division, 902-420-1732 ext. 50108,; Jennifer Graham, Coastal Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre, 902-442-5046,
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