A vision for urban flood resilience in Ontario: new report from Green Communities Canada

PETERBOROUGH, Ontario, May 13, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A new report by Green Communities Canada calls for collaborative action by municipalities and others to address urban flooding, a growing problem across Ontario.

Spring floods are affecting many communities right now, but flooding worries won’t be over when water levels go down. Many communities, including Toronto, Windsor, Burlington, Brantford, Markham, and Thunder Bay have been impacted in recent years by a different kind of flooding, nothing to do with rivers overflowing their banks. Runoff volumes are overwhelming stormwater and wastewater infrastructure, causing properties to flood nowhere near bodies of water.

“Many different players share responsibility – all levels of government, from Federal down to municipal, Conservation Authorities, the insurance industry, private property owners,  private contractors, nonprofits, academics, and more,” says the report author Clara Blakelock of Green Communities Canada. “We need to work together if we want to make progress.”

While no one can control the weather, communities can come together to address the problem.  The report details four areas where communities should take action:

  • Prioritize the most vulnerable neighbourhoods, by mapping risk and communicating with the public.
  • Provide support to the public for retrofitting properties and preparing for emergencies.
  • Reduce runoff and manage rain where it falls by protecting and restoring natural and green infrastructure.
  • Invest in improving infrastructure to protect all properties from large flood events.

The report calls for coordinated, collaborative action to address urban flooding across the province. Its development was supported by a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.  

“Only 6% of Canadians living in designated high risk flood zones are aware that they are at risk of flooding,” says Anna Ziolecki, director of Partners for Action, out of the University of Waterloo. “It’s important that we raise awareness about the practical solutions available to communities and property owners to improve their flood resiliency.”

“Most of our municipal infrastructure was built using one of many previous generations of drainage design standards. As a result, large parts of our cities do not have modern stormwater management and flood control, and it is a very big job to fix that,” says Hiran Sandanayake of the City of Ottawa.

“We’ve neglected green infrastructure for far too long,” says Julie Mulligan, a landscape architect and biologist, who served on the strategy’s leadership committee. “It’s so important, not just for reducing flood risk, but for improving water quality and groundwater recharge. Its potential is underestimated.”

“Aptly applied water sensitive design solutions are needed to enhance the resilience of cities and communities. Peer reviewed guidelines are needed to classify the different risk typologies affecting Canadian communities, to improve understanding and resulting action,” says Jamie Atkinson, Flood Resilience Coordinator at Flood Ready Corp in Toronto.

Read the full report at: http://www.raincommunitysolutions.ca/en/urban-flooding/

Contact: Clara Blakelock, Manager, Water Programs, Green Communities Canada


(705) 745 7479 ext 159

About Green Communities Canada

Green Communities Canada is a nonprofit national association of community-based environmental organizations.

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