Flooding in Ottawa When Living in Ottawa
What do you think about flooding in Ottawa when living in Ottawa? The capital of Canada is known for its stunning architecture, vibrant culture, and, unfortunately, unpredictable weather. When it comes to buying a home in Ottawa, flood levels should be top of mind. With the rise of extreme weather events, it’s essential to know the lay of the land before you commit to a property. Sure, it may be tempting to buy that charming riverside cottage, but before you sign on the dotted line, it’s best to check the flood maps. Living in Ottawa means becoming intimately acquainted with rain boots and sandbags, but that doesn’t mean your dream home has to be a sinking ship. So, do your research, visit the city’s website for up-to-date flood information, and don’t let a little water dampen your spirits.
When searching for the perfect neighbourhood in Ottawa, it’s important to take into consideration the potential impact of flood levels. While the city has seen some concerning floods in recent years, it’s not all doom and gloom. Taking precautions such as being aware of your current insurance coverage can alleviate some worries about potential damages.
However, it is also important to note that flood levels can affect the value of your home and the peace of mind when living in certain areas. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned homeowner, it’s crucial to weigh all factors before making a decision on which neighbourhood to call home.
The recent combination of heavy snowfall, warm temperatures, and the resulting lack of Spring thaw has left many worried about rising water levels. The situation has been further compounded by recent heavy rainfall. In the Cumberland area, river levels have increased by a staggering 10 cm in just a few days, while some roads have been closed in Gatineau due to flooding. The Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board is closely monitoring the situation as water levels approach major flood thresholds from the Ottawa Valley all the way to the Montreal area.
Dozens of people were forced from their homes due to flooding in late April and early May, as the Ottawa River rapidly rose. The communities of Mattawa and Pembroke in Ontario, and Gatineau in Quebec, were particularly impacted, with some experiencing flooding for the second time in two years.
2017 and 2019 saw the largest increases in flooding in the most recent years. The Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board reported in 2019 that the water levels in Lac Coulonge (located east of Pembroke, Ont.), Arnprior, and Ottawa have broken previous records. These areas have been keeping track of water levels since 1985 for Lac Coulonge and since 1950 for Arnprior and Ottawa. The water level in the Britannia area in Ottawa rose two centimetres higher than the previous record set in 2017.
The City of Gatineau announced in 2019 that water levels in Aylmer, Hull, and Pointe-Gatineau had reached the 100-year flood threshold, while levels in Masson-Angers to the east were only 10 centimetres away from that level.
In 2017, the flow reached its highest level since 1900, measuring at 9,100 cubic meters per second.
In 1976, the flow rate was 8,200 cubic meters per second.
In 1974, the volume of water flowing per second was 8,100 cubic meters.
Prior to the construction of the Carillon Dam, the river flow in 1951 was measured elsewhere in the Hawkesbury area and it was 8,300 cubic metres per second.
In 1947, the flow rate was 8,175 cubic meters per second.
In 1928, the flow rate was 8,760 cubic meters per second.
In 1909, the water flow rate was 8,400 cubic meters per second.
On the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, visit your local conservation authority. They provide floodplain maps indicating the areas at risk during a 1-in-100-year flood event, where there is a one per cent chance of such flooding happening in any year.
Flooding can be a devastating force of nature that can wreak havoc on communities. My wife and I know this all too well, as her parents live just outside of Arnprior and we have seen the destructive force of flooding firsthand. The sight of the town banding together with the help of local firefighters to build sandbag walls to protect peoples’ homes was truly humbling. It’s moments like these that restore faith in humanity, as community members come together to protect each other in times of crisis.
The University of Waterloo’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation published a report that looked into how catastrophic flooding has affected the sale price of homes in a few places in Canada, such as the Ottawa and Gatineau region. The average sold price of homes in Constance Bay, Fitzroy Harbour, Clarence-Rockland, Arnprior, Kanata, and Bayshore decreased by 9% and 10% in 2017 and 2019, respectively, when compared to non-flooded communities during the same time period. This was observed during the six months before and after the flooding. The areas of Pointe Gatineau, Masson-Angers, Quyon, and Rue Rene/Rue Sainte-Louis that were affected by flooding in 2017 had a 17.1% impact.
When it comes to purchasing a home, there are few things more important than assessing the flood risk of the property. People with experience in either flooding or real estate will tell you that the key to avoiding disaster is to do your homework. Flood risk has the potential to impact everything from financing to insurance, and it’s vital that prospective homebuyers consider this before investing in a property. After all, buying a home is a significant investment, and understanding the risk of flooding can play a crucial role in determining the return on that investment. So, if you’re in the market for a new home, take the time to research the flood risk in the area, and ensure you’re fully informed before signing on the dotted line.
But where can you do research on flood plains and potential risks to your future investment?
In addition to a trusted realtor familiar with the neighbourhoods you are interested, Ottawa homebuyers can also research local conservation authorities as they may offer other tools, like the RVCA’s series of neighbourhood flood maps, that show the potential extent of one-in-two-year, one-in-five-year, and other flood events short of the one-in-one hundred-year return period.
RVCA otherwise known as Rideau Valley Conservation Authority is one of Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities. Under Ontario’s Conservation Authorities Act, the RVCA is responsible for furthering the “conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources in the watershed.” We are responsible for protecting people and property from natural hazards like flooding and erosion.
The large conservation authorities to be aware of in the Ottawa area are Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, Mississippi Valley Conservation as well as the South Nation Conservation Authority. Each has a dedicated website with valuable information for the area you might be looking to buy a home in.
The City of Ottawa offers an interactive map that covers the City of Ottawa flood plain mapping and how climate change has affected the residential areas. Flood plain mapping is a crucial tool for identifying areas that are at risk of flooding due to rising water levels in watercourses. This mapping helps in the effective management of riverine flood risks by enabling accurate predictions of flood-prone areas. Efforts can then be focused on prevention and mitigation of risks, protecting both people and property. Flood plain mapping offers significant benefits to government agencies, emergency responders, and private citizens alike. Communities can use this information to make informed decisions about flood insurance, and potential home buyers can factor in flood risk when considering a property’s location. When it comes to protecting against the devastation of flooding, floodplain mapping is a critical first step.
The term “flood plain” refers to land located near a watercourse that may experience flooding when there is heavy rainfall or snow melting in the spring. The extent and depth of the flooding in the floodplain will depend on the severity of the flood event.
For instance, a “1 in the 5-year event” has a 20% chance of happening or being exceeded in any given year, while a “1 in the 100-year event” has a 1% chance. It’s important to note that a “1 in 100-year flood” doesn’t necessarily mean it will only happen once every 100 years.
Flood events that happen more often are typically smaller and have a higher chance of happening in any given year. Flood events that are less frequent, like those that happen once every 50 or 100 years, are much rarer and associated with more extreme floods.
The difference between the 1 in 100-year and 1 in 350-year flood plain maps is that generally, areas already vulnerable to flooding in a 1 in 100-year event will experience some increased depth of flooding in a 1 in 350-year event. Additionally, a few areas that are not affected by a 1 in 100-year event could experience flooding under a 1 in 350-year event.
It’s common for property owners to worry about their land being impacted by floods or other natural hazards. But it’s important to realize that these hazards already exist, and the mapping simply records them instead of causing them.
This flood plain mapping can inform decision-making for any future changes to a home or property and help ensure those investments are more resilient to possible future climate impacts as well as city planning and proposals.
For those seeking additional information about their city’s infrastructure, geoOttawa is an invaluable resource. This widely used public-facing website offers a multitude of information layers, from parks and schools to City facilities and zoning. Users can even view air photos dating all the way back to 1928. With geoOttawa, residents can easily identify the location of key resources and get a better sense of the layout of the city. In addition to being informative, the website is intuitive and user-friendly, making it accessible to all.
When looking to buy a home in the area, if you want to know about the flood history of a particular property or community quickly, you can check community groups and talk to the people who live in the area. You can also contact your insurance company to find out if there have been many claims for basement flooding in the area you are interested in.
And if you are thinking of relocating to Ottawa feel free to reach out to us. Give us a call – shoot us a text – send us an email – or even wrap it in a bow and send it first class because we got your back when moving to Ottawa or anywhere across Canada.