Opinion: Future flooding will "destroy" parts of Metro Vancouver real estate

Sep 27 2022, 4:03 pm

Written for Daily Hive by Alistair Vigier, the CEO of ClearWay Law, a company that allows the public to leave reviews for lawyers. He enjoys writing about real estate and lawsuits and divides his time between Canada and China.

With real estate prices dropping 25% in some parts of Canada, it seems that property is on everyone’s minds. To make things worse, climate change will destroy real estate prices in parts of Vancouver.

Vancouver is known around the world as one of the best places to live and own real estate. The city has constantly ranked in the top 10 cities in the world to live in. But some areas like Richmond and Delta have been having flooding and soil issues, which have been getting worse due to global warming. This has led to lawsuits in British Columbia that centre around insurance. It has also forced people to buy properties that are at higher elevations.

Where in Vancouver is at high risk of flooding?

In order to understand how real estate prices will be affected by flooding, it’s important to first understand climate change. Let’s start with the graph below. The purple areas are near sea level (bad), and the turquoise and green colours are at a higher elevation (good).

Flood map Vancouver, BC


For flood control purposes, you want to avoid the purple areas on the map. Richmond is only one meter above sea level, making it one of the most likely areas to flood. To help fight this, Richmond has invested a ton of money in improving its anti-flooding infrastructure to protect the more than 200,000 people who live in the city.

It’s important to keep in mind that many cities are flooding around the world, and therefore it doesn’t mean you should avoid purchasing property in Vancouver. Just be smart about where you pick. You can see that most of Vancouver (the city) is good, almost all of the North Shore, Langley, Surrey, Burnaby, and Abbotsford (as long as they are away from the Fraser River). The red and yellow areas are the mountains where there are no houses.

The only areas that I am aware of where you can buy houses on a mountain are Cypress Mountain and the Upper Lonsdale area (houses that back onto Mount Fromme).

Flooding and real estate opinion piece

Bridgeport Station flooding/Alistair Vigier

Why does BC flood?

British Columbia floods for the following four reasons:

  • High tides that happen in the winter (called King tides)
  • When the snow melts in the spring
  • Excessive rainfall (November is the wettest month in Vancouver)
  • The sea level rising due to climate change (rising 0.14 inches per year)

The Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has said that the extreme flooding seen in Vancouver in November 2021 will be more common in the future.

Flooding will greatly increase in some countries and droughts in other parts of the world. In Vancouver, it appears that the climate change issues will be flooding around November and wildfire smoke around September.

What is causing flooding in Richmond and parts of Vancouver?

I Googled “City of Richmond BC flooding strategy” to see if there was any plan for how to deal with the issues. I found an article which shows that they are aware of the flooding problems and are working on it. The city manages 49 km of dikes and 39 pump stations.

Richmond is an island city that is surrounded by water on all sides. It is sandwiched between the Fraser River and the Strait of Georgia to the west.

Flooding and real estate opinion piece

City of Richmond

What are the best areas of Vancouver to live in?

It will obviously depend on your budget, but in my opinion, the best places are Kitsilano, Vancouver West, and North Vancouver. These areas avoid potential flooding problems.

Kitsilano has amazing beaches, Vancouver West has UBC, and North Vancouver has amazing hiking spots (mountains, Deep Cove, Lynn Valley, and the Cleveland Dam).

If you are going for the North Shore, you might want to consider living on the Lynn Valley side instead of West Vancouver. I’ve never seen traffic on the Ironworkers bridge, whereas the Lion’s Gate Bridge can be good or bad.

lions gate


You should try to avoid buying real estate in areas like Richmond, Delta, or near the Fraser River unless you want to get yourself involved in nasty lawsuits with insurance companies. Many people buy real estate to make money, live life, and avoid dealing with drama. You don’t want your basement to be flooded.

Flooding in Vancouver conclusion

Even if flooding doesn’t destroy your Richmond house, do you really want to have to spend money on having the perimeter of your house stabilized every five years? That’s expensive!

If you can’t afford to buy, then consider being okay with renting. It’s better to rent in one of the best cities in the world than to own a house in an ugly city.

It seems that the City of Richmond is doing its best to fight rising sea levels, but just like a kid trying to stop the waves at the beach from destroying their sandcastle, it might be frugal.

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