Reports for Practitioners

P4A Generated reports

Partners for Action (P4A) conducts innovative research related to flood resiliency in Canada. Our work has yielded many new and useful insights into the challenges and issues confronting our country. Translating this research into accessible knowledge for Canadians and key decision makers is a top priority to drive change.

Communicating Flood Risk to Canadians – Workshop

Partners for Action hosted a workshop in the spring of 2019 to explore how flood risk information could be better communicated to Canadians in order to encourage personal protection, increase property- and community level flood resilience and reduce reliance on federal disaster assistance following flooding events. Based on presentations, a facilitated panel discussion and small, focused group discussions, participants learned that effective flood risk communication has some key characteristics:

  • Targeted: messages should be relevant to audience
  • Straightforward: messages should include specific actions and its importance
  • Understandable: messages should be written in more relatable and general language for non-expert audience
  • Written in non-technical language: messages should use plain language to ensure broad understanding
  • Positive tone: messages should be written in optimistic and hopeful tone to persuade public to take protective action
  • Delivered through trusted source: messages should come from sources trusted by the public to increase impact of communication
  • Designed to leverage social norms: messages should publicize the actions taken by some in order to induce others to adopt similar behaviours
  • Tailored for flood type: messages should address the dominant flood type a community faces.

Engaging Community Members in the Flood Plain Mapping Process

Taking the time to engage community members in the floodplain mapping process is a highly worthwhile and beneficial investment. There is no single best way to engage communities, as each process and each community will be different. Based on accounts of what is currently being done to engage communities, and based on the lessons learned and key recommendations provided by experts in the field, a series of recommended best practices for engaging communities in floodplain mapping can be established:

  1. Listen to the needs and wants of each community, as each community is unique.
  2. Engagement tools are most effective when they are interactive.
  3. Utilize multiple tools and platforms to optimize engagement efforts.
  4. Good facilitation is key for conducting effective community engagement.
  5. Make project information, resources, and deliverables available to the public online.

The Role of Flood Maps in Raising Awareness in Communities

Flood maps are critical tools for informing communities about their flood risk and supporting flood management discussions that involve the public (CIRIA, 2015). Maps can be used for many purposes, such as regulating build-up in flood-prone areas, identifying which properties should adopt flood-proofing measures, and educating the public about local flood risks. Maps are effective for public risk communication at the community level if they:

  1. Tailor maps for specific audience and purpose.
  2. Pair flood maps with local information that the community can relate to.
  3. Include information about historical floods.
  4. Provide flood maps online and promote them regularly as a continuous reminder of flood hazards.
  5. Use real-time gauge levels.
  6. Complement flood maps with information about the consequences of flooding and tangible protective actions.

A Community Guide to Flood Risk Communication

This Guide provides an overview of best practices for effective flood risk communication, and is designed to facilitate development of flood risk communication that promote community-level preparedness. This Guide is intended for use by emergency managers, risk communicators, and others who are working towards developing flood risk communication messaging and strategies that empower communities to pursue personal preparedness actions to reduce risk.

The guide is organized into the following sections:

  1. Five Lessons for Effective Flood Risk Communication– lessons for communicators in preparing their community for flooding.
  2. Multi-Faceted Approach to Risk Communication– a communication approach that empowers communities to take action on flood preparedness.
  3. Tools for Effective Flood Risk Communication – tools for communicators to use to engage and empower their community.

At the Front Lines 

This study is the first to examine flood resiliency of small to medium-sized Ontario communities, through interviews with 18 municipalities, two First Nation communities, and 15 Conservation Authorities (CAs). The findings reveal that flooding represents a significant priority for Ontario, as the majority of communities have experienced a flood event in the last ten years, with some experiencing significant impacts from urban flooding. Areas of the local economy most at risk from flood include residences, businesses, commercial areas, transportation networks, agricultural areas, and traditional land use areas. Communities are motivated to reduce flood risk and believe they are at risk of future flooding, but most are not considering the costs of climate change impacts and the costs/benefits of adaptation or have limited knowledge of their liability in the event of a major flood event, making it difficult to effectively prioritize and defend adaptation measures.

RAIN Smart Framework for Municipalities

To assist municipalities with progressive stormwater management projects, Partners for Action and Reep Green Solutions have developed the RAIN Smart Framework for Municipalities. This framework provides ready-to-use templates and resources on how to engage the community on lot-level stormwater management. More specifically, the framework provides some proven methods to engage homeowners to manage precipitation on their properties to increate resiliency of stormwater infrastructure on a neighbourhood or community scale. In addition, the framework provides foundational support to municipalities who are interested in increasing public awareness of stormwater management issues and green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), promoting residential update of GSI, and fostering collaboration between residential homeowners, citizen grounds and municipal staff.

Flood Risk Reduction in Canada: The Road to Becoming a Trusted Source for Preparedness Information

In 2018, P4A partnered with the Canadian Red Cross to develop a collaborative awareness-to-action project that will inform Canadians about their flood risk and encourage behavioural change to create more resilient communities. As part of this project, interviews were conducted with flood and risk communication experts to gain a better understanding of what they want residents to know about flood risk and how to prepare. In addition to expert interviews, online surveys, interviews, and focus groups were conducted in in two Ontario communities – the city of Windsor and Dufferin County – to better understand the communication needs of Canadian communities and identify barriers to action. The communities were also asked to share their opinions and feedback on existing Canadian Red Cross flood communication materials to provide the researchers with an understanding of effective communication messages and approaches.