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TheStreet Open House

What Will It Take For Canadians To Wake Up To The Threats Of Extreme Weather?

Majority think climate change is causing more frequent storms, but aren't taking action to protect their homes and communities

TORONTO, March 19, 2014 /CNW/ - Heavy rainstorms, snowfall and floods increasingly dominate news headlines, with extreme weather events directly affecting more than 3.5 million Canadians in 2013. According to the seventh annual RBC Canadian Water Attitude Study, three-quarters of Canadians (74 per cent) agree that climate change will cause these events to happen more frequently. Yet just 23 per cent are concerned about extreme weather causing droughts or flooding and only nine per cent of Canadians have taken precautionary measures to protect themselves and their homes from the effects of extreme weather events.

The poll of 2,074 Canadians between January 24 and February 12, 2014 also showed that people perceive floods to be more prevalent in Canada compared to 10 years ago, with more than one-in-five Canadians (21 per cent) saying that they live in an area vulnerable to flooding.

"There's no question that 2013 was the 'year of the urban flood' for Canadians," says Bob Sandford, chair, Canadian Partnership Initiative of the UN Water for Life Decade. "Extreme floods like the ones we saw in Calgary and Toronto weren't a matter of 'if', they were simply a matter of 'when'. So this level of inactivity on the part of Canadians is concerning. You wouldn't go out in a rainstorm without an umbrella. Why wouldn't you try to safeguard your home from the weather, too?"

Canadians seem unaware an increase in stormwater runoff is caused, in part, by the amount of paving and concrete in our cities. Paved driveways continue to be the preference of more than half (53 per cent) of Canadians. And even when they learn that a water-permeable driveway such as gravel or inter-locking stones will help the ground absorb excess water, the majority of Canadians (55 per cent) wouldn't change their preference for pavement.

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