Development within the Flood Way

Res #: 15-23M
Number: 15
Year: 2023
Midterm: Yes
Expired: No
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Government Relations

WHEREAS the Statements of Provincial Interest are prohibited to develop within the flood way.

WHEREAS criteria for developers and landowners who own property located within the flood way where they can still have value in a property.

WHEREAS insurance and liability claims for development within the floodway shall be the responsibility of the landowner and insurer.

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the provincial government to allow developments to happen on prime land to continue to foster community growth and expansion regardless of it being in the flood way.

Responses From: Saskatchewan Ministry of Government Relations

December 7, 2023

  • Development restrictions in flood-prone areas are outlined in The Statements of Provincial Interest Regulations (SPI) where construction of new buildings and additions to buildings are prohibited in the flood way of a 1:500 year estimated flood event.
  • Flood way is the area inundated with flood water that is greater than 1 metre in depth or where water flows at a velocity greater than 1 m/second.
  • The 1:500 year estimated flood elevation level has been applied in Saskatchewan since the Flood Damage Reduction Program was initiated in the mid-1970s. Over the years, the province has encouraged and requested municipalities’ new official community plans recognize this level and, where appropriate, apply mitigation measures.
  • The 1:500 year estimated flood elevation does not mean the land will flood once every 500 years. It is a risk assessment which predicts a 10 per cent chance of flooding every 50 years to the estimated elevation.
  • In 2012, the province reaffirmed the use of the 1:500 estimated flood elevation levels in SPI following significant flood events from 2007 to 2011.
  • Between 2010 and 2014 the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP) received 21,734 claims and paid out approximately $351 million towards these flood claims. This does not include disaster recovery dollars by other ministries and Crown agencies or the personal losses for items not covered by the program.
  • The province, municipalities and affected residents have an obligation to consider potential flood risks and take appropriate precautions reflective of the property circumstances.
  • Municipalities should seek legal advice about:
    • Insurance coverage for liability claims;
    • The resolution’s suggestion for agreements to waive liability from flooding; and
    • Potential implications of negligence resulting from the failure to properly address known flood situations.
  • Individuals should discuss flooding potential with their insurer. Policies currently being offered vary considerably in coverage and conditions relating to flooding and other hazards. Insurance companies that have recently entered the market to offer overland flood insurance have undertaken their own proprietary analysis of flood susceptible properties they will or will not cover.
  • Regardless of the availability of private flood insurance or coverage under PDAP, prevention is the first step to minimizing impacts from flooding on citizens and their property investment. The experience of having to recover from such situations is devastating for citizens and businesses.
  • Flood occurrences throughout the province confirm that 1:500 year flood events do occur in Saskatchewan. Municipal planning for flood prevention, flood protection and emergency preparedness are important municipal tools to protect citizens and businesses.
  • Preventative measures are in the public interest to ensure no undue hardship falls on the landowners, citizens, and businesses.
  • Municipalities can refer to the Statements of Provincial Interest Handbook on ca for details and practical approaches for managing development in flood prone areas.

The Honourable Don McMorris – Minister of Government Relations, Saskatchewan Ministry of Government Relations