The Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks today unveiled the establishment of a new regulatory framework concerning flood zones. The new mapping could concern 77,000 homes, more than three times more than before.

“The objective of the regulatory framework that is proposed is absolutely not to relocate citizens, it is rather to provide measures to increase their security and protect their property,” immediately specifies Caroline Robert, senior director. of governance and supervision of flood-prone areas at the Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks, during a press briefing on the new regulations.

This new mapping will be done in collaboration with municipalities and will be based on the most up-to-date scientific knowledge that will make it possible to predict flood zones and the movements of waterways that could be induced by climate change. Although the new maps have not yet been produced, experts estimate that nearly 77,000 homes (or 2% of Quebec’s population) could end up in a flood zone – compared to 22,000 today.

This new regulation aims to make Quebec more resilient in the face of climate change, specifies Caroline Robert. “Mapping does not create the risk, it aims to illustrate the existing risk,” she adds.

Specifically, the new mapping will define areas of “flood intensity.” This intensity will depend on two criteria: the probability that a flood could occur in the next 25 years on the one hand, and the height that the water level could reach on the other hand.

Thus, a residence which has a risk between 7% and 20% of experiencing at least one flood in the next 25 years, for which the water level could be more than 60 cm, will be located in an intensity zone “high.” A residence that has more than a 70% risk of experiencing a flood in the next 25 years, for a water level reaching 30 cm or more, will be in an intensity zone qualified as “very high”.

Depending on the intensity zone in which a residence is located, it will always be possible to carry out repair and renovation work (sometimes under conditions). But it will not be possible to rebuild a significantly damaged building located in a very high intensity zone, for example; and the possibilities for expansion in this area will also be very limited – this will be limited to essential needs, such as moving a bedroom that would be located in the basement.

The new regulatory framework also proposes that in flood-prone areas, it is not possible to construct a building in a new sector (even for an area with low flood risk). In existing neighborhoods with vacant land, it will only be possible to construct a new building under certain conditions (but this will not be possible for an area with a very high flood risk).

However, it will be possible for municipalities to reduce risks by implementing flood protection structures, such as dikes, for example, which aim to protect residences. In this case, after demonstrating that the dike was effective, a residence that would be protected by this dike could see its intensity zone go from “very high” to “low”. Today there are 32 structures in the area.

Concerning the concerns of citizens located in flood zones about the increase in their insurance premium, “the modernization of the regulatory framework will not fundamentally change the situation”, assures Jean-François Constant, director of water policies at the Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks. “We are not insurers […], but we have not heard of any emerging trends in relation to changes in practices,” he said.