A screen grab of a smaller tsunami scenario. In this model, the water level has now gone inland, and water is now visible across roads and highways. (District of Ucluelet image)

Ucluelet unveils flood mapping project

Community is invited to view the public exhibit at the UCC from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

The District of Ucluelet invites West Coasters to peruse a flood mapping public exhibit at the Ucluelet Community Centre from now until mid-September. The exhibit is open 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and will not be staffed.

Visitors are asked to respect COVID-19 protocols and to maintain social distancing.

The public exhibit includes posters, reports, maps and a flood visualization video to help folks visualize the different tsunami flood models. People can also view the flood mapping video and posters online by visiting ucluelet.ca and searching ‘flood mapping’.

The flood mapping project was completed with funding from the Provincial Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, administered by Emergency Management British Columbia (EMBC).

Coastal flood hazards from coastal storms and tsunamis were assessed and modelled to develop a series of flood hazard maps for the area that can inform future policy and planning instruments, according to a release issued by the district.

These flood hazards are further heightened by climate change and rising sea levels, which have been included in the models.

Tamsin Lyle, principal engineer at Vancouver-based Ebbwater Consulting Inc., presented the flood mapping project during a June council meeting. She said it took her team about six to seven months to complete the unique coastal modeling project.

“The why of this project I think is pretty obvious. You all live there, you see these big storms. There is also tsunami threat on the coast. The real intent of this work is to lay the foundation so that moving forward you can have an opportunity to reduce your risk over time,” said Lyle during the June 23 regular council meeting.

She told Ucluelet’s mayor and council the town is “relatively well-off in the grand scheme of things.”

“Your very steep coastline means that you don’t have many areas that are underwater. However, on the West Coast where you have all of that wave energy coming in, in those very steep coastline, there is some pretty significant depths in the outer coasts,” Lyle said, adding that the depths of water on the inlet side are much smaller.

She pointed out that a tsunami wave for Ucluelet will look much gentler than we may imagine.

“We often think of a tsunami wave like that classic Japanese wave as a big curl. That’s not at all what the tsunami wave is going to look like for you. What it is a very dramatic and rapid tide. It’s going to come up very, very fast over the course of half-an-hour or be much, much steeper than anything you’ve seen before,” Lyle said.

Ebbwater Consulting developed 20 maps looking at coastal flooding specific for the municipality of Ucluelet and surrounding communities. The models could be used to update District of Ucluelet policies and bylaws such as the Official Community Plan (OCP) and zoning bylaw, and to inform emergency preparedness planning, notes the district’s release.

The data could also be used to inform the establishment of no-build areas, flood construction levels that account for predicted sea level rises and future designation of development areas that are outside of hazardous flood risk zones.


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READ: Construction work begins on seismic upgrades at Ucluelet Secondary School

READ: Provinces not moving fast enough to assess, mitigate flood risk: report

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