Intact Financial and University of Waterloo launch nationwide effort to weather-harden cities

Date June 17, 2014

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

CALGARY, June 17, 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 Alberta, Green Communities Canada and Green Calgary will roll out the RAIN Home Visit and Depave Paradise programs.

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 Jennie Moushos, Senior Vice President Western Canada for 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."

Green Calgary and Green Communities Canada will educate homeowners through the RAIN Home Visit Program on simple means to help flood-proof their homes, such as placing plastic covers over window-wells, ensuring that eaves troughs are kept clear, and that landscaping around homes directs water away from foundations.

"The program offers professional advice by certified RAIN Guides with advanced technical knowledge," said Patricia Cameron, former Executive Director of Green Calgary. "The guide will walk with you around your property with a detailed checklist to identify issues and priorities for action. The assessment covers everything from your foundation and roof to drainage and downspouts."

The guides will spend approximately two hours with homeowners to help them understand the stormwater issues on their properties and discuss solutions. Homeowners will also receive a report with recommendations and best practices, as well as supporting information and illustrations.

Depave Paradise is an engaging program that organizes high-profile community events in which volunteers remove unwanted pavement and transform the area into healthy green spaces. The hands-on depaving process will capture the hearts and energies of community members who work together to make their surroundings more liveable.

This is an exciting new trend that renews neglected urban spaces. Depave Paradise demonstration projects will make permanent, positive changes to neighbourhoods and encourage people to engage others and raise awareness of stormwater issues.

Examples of projects that will get underway in other provinces in the coming months include:

  • Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) will naturalize concrete-lined Spring Creek in the Region of Peel. The project will remove much of the concrete, return the creek to a natural state, and reconnect it with the floodplain, all of which will dissipate stress on the channel during high flows. TRCA has made watercourse restoration a priority as many channels are approaching their engineered design life or, in some areas, are already past that point.
  • Nature-Action Québec will convert an alleyway on the island of Montreal, removing part of the asphalt, planting trees and vegetation, and adding lattice stone pavement to reduce flooding due to stormwater or sewer backups. This project will also help reduce heat island-related problems.

"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,; Rosa Nelson, Director, Communications, Intact Insurance, 403-231-1300 ext. 30747,; Andrea Rocchio, RAIN Consultant, Green Calgary, 403-230-1443 ext. 230,
Return to all Press Releases