Natural Hazards

, Volume 98, Issue 1, pp 31–50 | Cite as

Protect, accommodate, retreat or avoid (PARA): Canadian community options for flood disaster risk reduction and flood resilience

  • Brent DobersteinEmail author
  • Joanne Fitzgibbons
  • Carrie Mitchell
Original Paper


This paper uses the “protect/accommodate/retreat/avoid” or “PARA” framework to categorize and examine flood disaster risk reduction approaches used to build climate change resilience in communities across Canada. We suggest that the PARA framework, first developed for climate change adaptation planning in communities facing sea level rise, is also a useful framework for flood risk reduction and flood resilience. The paper reviews four case studies of Canadian flood disaster risk reduction, with each case chosen to represent one of the four PARA risk reduction options. The extensive network of dikes and pumping stations employed in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland (Fraser River) is used in the paper as an example of a “protect” approach to flood risk reduction; Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Basement Flood Relief Program is used to highlight the “accommodate” approach; zoning changes and land expropriation following Toronto, Ontario’s 1954 Hurricane Hazel flood disaster are used to showcase the “retreat” approach; and, modern floodplain development planning approaches in Calgary, Alberta are used to highlight the “avoid” approach. Overall, this paper contends that the PARA framework can be an effective approach for comprehensive flood disaster risk reduction and flood resilience; however, contextual factors, including equity considerations, should guide its application in situ.


Resilience Natural hazards Disaster risk reduction Climate change Canada Flooding 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Environmental Management, Faculty of EnvironmentUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.School of Planning, Faculty of EnvironmentUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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