Sea Level Rise Adaptation Program
Sea level rise is driven by a global increase in average temperature which is causing glacier and ice caps to melt, and the expansion of ocean waters. At the regional and local scale, sea level rise will differ and change in response to these global effects. For the east coast of Vancouver Island, the mean sea level rise is estimated to increase by least 0.8 meters by the year 2100. Potential impacts associated with these changes include:
- More frequent and extreme high water levels in coastal areas
- Increased erosion and flooding
- Increased risk to coastal infrastructure, as well as increased maintenance and repair costs
- Loss of property due to erosion
- Loss of habitat and reduced biodiversity
- Saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers
- Loss of cultural and historical sites
The RDN is preparing for sea level rise through the Sea Level Rise Adaptation Program. Adaptation refers to actions taken to respond to the impacts of sea level rise and to reduce the associated risks. This multi-year Program is divided into four phases (see below) and is designed to be executed with the collaboration of relevant RDN departments and member municipalities. We are currently in the RESEARCH phase which includes undertaking a coastal analysis to develop coastal hazard maps.
SLR Adaptation Program Components and Timelines:
We are currently in the RESEARCH phase which includes undertaking a coastal analysis to develop coastal hazard maps. When completed, the mapping information will be used to update the RDN's Floodplain Management Bylaw No. 1469, and the RDN's Emergency Services Hazard Risk Assessment Plan as well as future assessments, policies and plans regarding sea level rise adaptation.
Flood Hazard Mapping
To support the RDN in becoming more resilient to future flood events, the RDN has hired Ebbwater Consulting and Cascadia Coast Research Ltd. to assess coastal storm flood hazards, considering sea level rise. A necessary first step in flood management is to acquire flood hazard maps to better understand where and how deep water might be in a flood event, especially in the context of changing sea levels.
Due to the size of our coastline (188 km), the mapping study will take place in two phases. Phase 1, Study Area 1 & 2, will be completed in the spring 2019 and Phase 2, Study Area 3, is anticipated to be initiated in the fall 2019. See, Related Documents - Study Area Map (below).
Since 2004, flood management regulation has been transferred from the Provincial Government to predominantly become the responsibility of local governments in BC. Following this change the RDN adopted the Floodplain Management Bylaw No.1469 in 2006. After several years of consultation, the Province of BC amendment their Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines to incorporate sea-level rise. Aligned with these changes, the RDN updated the Floodplain Management Bylaw in December 2018.
When completed, the flood hazard mapping information will be used to further update the Floodplain Management Bylaw, and to inform future decisions relating to land use, servicing and emergency preparedness planning.
Study areas 1 & 2 (north & central communities) will be completed in the spring 2019. Study area 3 (south communities) is anticipated to be initiated in fall 2019. For more information on the study areas and sea-level rise, see the related documents listed below: