Closing Panel: Robert Tremblay


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  • Good afternoon, and thank you ?? For that kind introduction. I am very pleased to be here today on behalf of Insurance Bureau of Canada to moderate today’s closing panel “Water as a Municipal Economic Driver”. It is my great pleasure to introduce you to our panelists today. They are: Jane Comeault, Sustainability Strategist, with   Metro Vancouver Wayne Galliher: Water Conservation Project Manager, Waterworks Division,  Environmental Services, City of Guelph Glen Laubenstein Chief Administrative Officer,  City of Winnipeg Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Assistant Professor, Aboriginal Studies,  Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto Today, you will be hear brief presentations from each of us. You will hear 5 unique perspectives on policies, programs and ideas that will shape our water future – how it is used, priced, supplied, managed. We will also touch on how governments are preparing for adaptation to climate change. Then, we will have our panel discussion, where we touch on any and all of the issues raised. I look forward to a lively discussion, and of course, lots of interesting questions from the audience today. Now, let me give you a bit of background on Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and why the insurance industry is so interested in the water issue. IBC represents over 200 home, car and business insurers operating in Canada. We act on our members’ behalf on matters affecting the industry and consumers. Of course, we work on traditional insurance-related priorities, but we also work on big-picture issues, such as road safety, insurance crime, consumer education… and adaptation to climate change.
  • We all know climate change is here. We need only look out our windows or turn on the news to see its effects. Climate change, and the increased severe weather it brings, has been a game-changer the insurance industry. Storms that used to happen every 100 years are now happening - in some cases - several times a decade. As you can imagine, that creates a lot of excess water, and leads to a lot of damage. We know that water damage causes about $1.3 billion a year in insured losses - making it the leading cause of damages to homes in Canada. This is a significant change from, say 50 years ago, or even more recently…when the biggest threat to our homes was fire. Our data shows that this is no longer the case. The graph you see here shows what has been happening in claims for damages to homes since 1993. The red line indicates fire losses, which have pretty well stayed even… The blue line is water. You can see that water claims have climbed dramatically. Wind and hail have also increased.
  • When you add Canada’s aging water infrastructure to the mix, which wasn’t built to handle the excessive amount of water we’re seeing… Houston (or should I say Canada), we have a problem. Our infrastructure wasn’t designed to handle the excess water we are receiving. It has no where to go but our roads, our basements and homes.
  • In 2008, IBC struck a committee to develop a strategy for addressing adaptation to climate change. Our goals are clear: Communities must be ready to withstand the impacts of climate change. All levels of government must contribute to making the necessary changes to bolster preparation. And – individual citizens must recognize how they, too, can play a role in adaptation…how they can make a difference through how they live and where they live. As part of this work, we are pioneering the development of a web-based scoring mechanism that will provide municipalities with a visual representation of their at-risk zones. It will enable them to identify their greatest infrastructure vulnerabilities and plan, and build, accordingly. And, it will help our industry better understand and underwrite the risks. The program we are developing will help us understand the risk of infrastructure failure. It will collect and analyze key municipal data, such as:
  • The age and design of sewer and surface water systems; The maintenance and operation of those systems; The urban development policies that influence system capacity; and Topographical features like elevation and soil type, which affect risk and vary broadly within large urban centres. Currently, nothing like this program exists. We are breaking new ground. We plan to test-pilot the program in 20 municipalities in Canada, We are working closely with Hamilton, Fredericton and Winnipeg for the proof of concept and are aiming to launch it for wide-spread use in 2012. When the project comes to fruition, we hope to have a new tool to help communities become more resilient. The development of this software solution is just one way for us to reach out to all levels of government – federal, provincial and municipal – to address adaptation and to deal with water issues.
  • In conclusion, let me, share with you a quote from Lau Tzu – Chinese philosopher and the founder of Taoism. He said: Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant , the yielding overcome the forceful .   Lau Tzu was speaking metaphorically about how people ought to live their lives. But I think we can ponder a more literal interpretation of this quote, in a way that supports my main topics today of water and adaptation. When dealing with something as potent as water, it behooves us to be flexible and yielding. Or, in other words, we must learn to adapt . There’s a limit to what we can achieve if the only plan is to hold back the water by force.   The insurance industry in Canada is proposing that we embrace this spirit of adaptation – accepting that severe weather is bringing more water to deal with, accepting that water will find its course, and the best we can do is give it more space to go. Modernizing and expanding our sewer systems; creating areas for deliberate flooding; learning to live and work far away from areas where we know flooding will occur; And, yes, even through the use of rain barrels. Solutions must come from all levels. Federal and provincial governments need to make a contribution. At the same time, most solutions need to be implemented at the municipal and community levels. And there are things we can do as individuals. In other words, we all have a role to play. In that spirit, let’s move on to our first presenter of the panel.
  • Closing Panel: Robert Tremblay

    1. 1. <ul><li>Canadian Water Summit </li></ul><ul><li>WATER AS </li></ul><ul><li>A MUNICIPAL ECONOMIC DRIVER </li></ul>
    2. 2. The national trade association for Canada’s private home, car and business insurers. Who is IBC?
    3. 3. Water Losses % Distribution of Claims Incurred 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1993 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Personal Lines Losses in Canada 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Fire Water Wind/Hail
    4. 4. Infrastructure Issues
    5. 5. ? ? ? Municipal Risk Assessment RISK ASSESSMENT TOOL RISK ASSESSMENT TOOL
    6. 6. <ul><li>Design and condition of water systems; </li></ul><ul><li>Operational procedures; </li></ul><ul><li>Watershed, topography, soil and </li></ul><ul><li>Urban development policies </li></ul>Municipal Risk Assessment ? ? ? RISK ASSESSMENT TOOL RISK ASSESSMENT TOOL
    7. 7. Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Lau Tzu Founder of Taoism