By: Naomi Proulx
No matter how far from a body of water, all Ontarians living in a developed area may be at risk to urban flooding, according to this year’s Provincial Auditor Report. So what’s being done about it? Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk believes nothing is being done towards a hazard the government has known about for the past 15 years.
“Funding and where money is allocated is a government choice, It just needs to be transparent to people why those choices are being made,” Lysyk says.
The 2018 Environment Plan sought ways homeowners could be educated and protected from the risks of flooding. This included consulting tax policies and working with insurance and real estate industries. In the 2022 report it was found none of these commitments have been implemented.
Lysyk mentions the price of backwater valves. She explains installing a valve during construction costs around $250, while adding one to a pre-existing home could cost up to $4,800. The price of repairing a backed up sewer can run as high as $40,000.
Provincial reports and plans have identified specific actions to reduce the risk of Ontario’s urban flooding. The annual report found that Ontario has no effective systems to encourage municipalities and home owners to help with flooding. As well as unclear provincial roles around managing the urban flood risk.
“I’ve joked over the years that there kind of two types of municipalities,” says Glenn McGillivray, a spokesperson for the Institute on Catastrophic Loss Reduction. “There’s the one type that says: ‘We’d better release this information or we might get sued.’ And then there’s the other type that says: ‘We better not release this information because we might get sued,’ says McGillivray to Globe and Mail.
After the release of the Annual Report, Environment Minister David Piccini responded that the government cares deeply and added a new climate plan is in the works.