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Sea Level Rise

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Sea Level Rise


On December 16, 2019 Council received a report which outlined the status of the District’s sea level rise and marine policy planning work. This report outlined the CRD is undertaking a Flood Inundation mapping project. This project will complete comprehensive coastal inundation modeling and mapping related to future sea level rise due to climate change and tsunamis. The project will produce a new digital elevation model, produce coastal inundation models for sea level rise and tsunamis, and produce related inundation mapping for the capital region. The overall intent of this project is to support the capital region, including municipalities and other stakeholders, in better understanding the implication of rising sea levels and various tsunami scenarios. The project will not replace municipal legislated obligations to manage flood hazards; however, it will provide information and data that can be used to inform, and where desirable, harmonize: decision-making around land use, sea level rise related flood hazard policies, capital investment planning and emergency preparedness strategies.

Next Steps

At the September 28, 2020 Special Meeting of Council, the correspondence from the CRD regarding the Capital Region Coastal Flood Inundation Mapping Project was received and Council directed staff to incorporate this information in a future report on sea level rise.


Beginning in 2016 and over the course of 2016 and 2017, in accordance with Council direction, staff retained the services of SNC Lavalin to undertake a study of flood construction levels (FCL) for sea level rise. This work, which considered site specific conditions such as wave exposure and shoreline type, determined that flood hazard related to sea level rise exists within the District and identified defined FCLs for 39 different reaches along the coastline of the District. Subsequent to the determination of the FCLs a further report was prepared with recommendations regarding the District’s marine policies contained within the Official Community Plan.

The provincial government Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines (FHALUMG, Section 3.5.4) suggests that land areas exposed to coastal flood hazards, where potential flood levels will be increased by sea level rise, should be designated as a floodplain to reduce the potential for injury and property damage caused by coastal flooding. If the land is so designated, a local government specifies flood construction levels and setbacks to address the coastal flood hazard including the effect of sea level rise. The FCL Study Report has enabled the District to specify these development standards with a high level of precision for various reaches of the marine shoreline.

Council initially considered the application of a development permit area over those lands susceptible to flooding, however this approach was replaced with a proposed coastal hazard flooding mitigation bylaw. This change in approach was intended to respond to community concern regarding the cost implications associated with the proposed development permit process. The bylaw approach also provides certain exemptions to the FCL requirements, which were intended to reflect existing site conditions related to minor renovations.

On November 7, 2018 the District hosted an information session on the District’s proposed marine area Official Community Plan amendments and Coastal Flooding Mitigation Bylaw. The session was held to provide information on the proposed amendment bylaws and to answer questions from interested and affected members of the community. Copies of the proposed bylaws were made available at the meeting. Additionally, a guideline to development in the flood hazard area was developed and also provided at the meeting, along with responses to a series of frequently asked questions (which were subsequently updated following the session).

Following the November 2018 session staff reported back to Council on December 3, 2018 with the recommendation that Council grant readings to the proposed bylaws. At that the same meeting Council received information from PROW (Property Responsibility On Waterfront) regarding their intention to host a public workshop of their own to be held on January 23, 2019. PROW indicated that they would provide Council with recommendations for the potential amendment of specific language currently contained in the proposed bylaws. Council resolved to defer further consideration of the bylaws until they received further information from the PROW meeting (Motion 683). In October 2019 PROW submitted their response to the proposed bylaws.

Project Documents and Reports



Public Consultation/Workshop Information

Notice to Developers – Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines

The Provincial Government update to the Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines (FHALUMG, 2004) to include guidance on land use and development in areas that will be affected by sea level rise will come into effect on January 1, 2018 to allow a transition period for local governments. This update is based on a technical report commissioned by the Province and published in 2011, which demonstrates how sea level rise will influence setbacks and flood construction levels in coastal areas and recommends incorporating sea level rise into planning and development to ensure a standard of public safety into the future. The Flood Hazard Area Land Use Management Guidelines have been prepared by the provincial government to help local governments, land-use managers, and approving officers develop and implement land-use management plans, and make subdivision approval decisions, in areas subject to flood hazards.

This update represents a significant policy change that will impact land use and development decisions made by local governments in coastal areas. The update amends sections 3.5 (The Sea) and 3.6 (Areas Protected by Standard Dikes) based on a series of technical studies, Climate Change Adaptation Guidelines for Sea Dikes and Coastal Flood Hazard Land Use (Ausenco Sandwell, 2011), as well as discussion with local governments and stakeholders over several years.

A technical working group of local government professional staff was established by the Province to review written submissions on the FHALUMG proposed amendments and make recommendations to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations regarding changes to the draft amendment. 

The Local Government Act:

Section 298 where building regulations are established or under S.305 where the building inspector considers that construction would be subject to flooding and flood proofing conditions are not established in any of the above
Section 488 where a development permit area has been designated under the provisions of Section 488 a development permit may specific areas of land that may be subject to hazardous conditions;
Section 479 can regulate parcel configuration, the density of the land use, siting and standards of buildings and structures;
Section 524  of the Local Government Act to enact either flood construction level or floodplain setback standards.


Additional Resources

Adapting to Climate Change – BC Coast Engineers & Geoscientists BC
Legislated Flood Assessments in a Changing Climate in BC
Relative Sea level Project in Canada & Adjacent Mainland US
Canada’s Marine Coast in a Changing Climate – 2016
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Coastal Floodplain Mapping – Guidelines and Specifications (June, 2011) PLEASE NOTE: this is a large file and may take time to download
BC Ministry of Environment
Sea Level Rise Adaptation Primer A Toolkit to Build Adaptive Capacity on Canada’s South Coasts (January 2013)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
An Examination of the Factors Affecting Relative and Absolute Sea Level in Coastal British Columbia Canadian Technical Report of Hydrography and Ocean Sciences 260 (2008)
BC Ministry of Environment
Professional Practices in Assessing Flood Protection Guidelines (June 30, 2014)
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