Ontario’ Ford Government Releases Report from Special Advisor on Flooding

How Ford Government Says It Is Taking Steps to Strengthen Flood Resiliency in Communities

News during the record flooding damaging and destroying property in several communities in Ontario in the spring of 2019

Among the Steps Already Taken According to the Ford Government’s Report – “In spring 2019, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry provided approximately 890,000 sandbags to municipalities throughout southern and eastern Ontario and deployed over 60 Fire Ranger crews and additional support staff to many impacted municipalities.”

News from Ontario’s Ford Government

Posted November 28th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Premier Doug Ford visiting some of the water swamped communities in the Ottawa area during the spring of 2019

Toronto — The Ontario government is taking action to strengthen the province’s resiliency to flooding. 

“The safety of the public and the protection of our communities is our number one priority,” said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “After last spring’s flooding, we recognized that we needed an external perspective on the current roles and responsibilities of the governments, agencies and organizations involved in flood management – someone who could provide independent advice on improvements we can make.”
In July, Minister Yakabuski named Doug McNeil as Special Advisor on Flooding, and charged him with conducting an independent review of flood management and 2019 flooding events in Ontario. The Special Advisor delivered his report to the Ontario government on October 31.  

In St. Catharines’ Port Dalhousie this spring and summer of 2019 ,walls of sandbags were used to hold back near recrod-high waters in Lake Ontario. File photo by Doug Draper

In his review, Mr. McNeil confirmed that this year’s record-setting flooding in many parts of the province was caused by a combination of weather conditions: colder-than-average winter and spring, higher-than-average snowpack, lack of significant winter thaw, rapid snow melt and significant rain events in the spring.

 Mr. McNeil found that nothing pointed to human error or the negligent operation of water control structures as the cause of the flooding, and that the government and its partners were effective at reducing and mitigating flood risks.  

“Mr. McNeil looked carefully at the core components of the Province’s approach to emergency management relative to last spring’s flood season and found that steps taken by individuals, municipalities, dam owners, and other agencies were effective in reducing further potential damage to communities,” said Minister Yakabuski.

Signficant parts of the Port Dalhousie Harbour area and Lakeside Park is under water for the second time in just three years this past spring of 2019 due to near record high water levels in Lake Ontario. File photo by Doug Draper

“We are pleased by this conclusion, and we appreciate Mr. McNeil’s practical advice for the Province and other parties to help us to become more flood resilient.”

Since the spring, the government has taken significant steps to help increase the province’s resiliency to flooding:

  • Initiated procurement for its first-ever broad, multi-sector provincial climate change impact assessment that will help the province, municipalities, Indigenous communities and other local partners make more informed decisions to keep communities and people healthy and safe.
  • Opened the Green Stream infrastructure fund of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), enabling smaller municipalities to access approximately $200 million in federal and provincial funding to invest in critical water, waste water and storm water projects.
  • Launched a $1 million pilot project under the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance program to help municipalities rebuild damaged infrastructure to make it more resilient to extreme weather.
  • Made it faster for property owners to get the approvals they need to repair flood-related damage to shorelines.

Another in an ever-more frequent series of flooding episodes in Ontario, this one in the Brantford area in 2018

Ontario has already committed to taking the following actions to address recommendations from the Special Advisor’s report: 

  • Modernize regulations under the Conservation Authorities Act to have conservation authorities focus on their core mandate of protecting people and property from flooding and other natural hazards.
  • Launch a comprehensive review of Ontario’s natural hazard technical guides and guidelines related to flood forecasting and warning.
  • Ensure the continued investment of over $4.7 million in the hydrometric (stream gauge) network to enable flood forecasting and flood warnings that help municipalities better prepare for flood events.   

The Province is reviewing the remaining recommendations along with its partners and will work together to increase the awareness of flood risks and help build Ontario’s resiliency to flooding.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, visiting communities suffering severe damage from near record-high flooding earlier earlier this 2019.

Quick Facts

  • To date, the government has provided disaster recovery funding assistance of over $3.7 million to affected individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations as a result of spring 2019 flooding.
  • In 2018, Ontario announced $5 million in a Watershed Conservation and Management Initiative to better identify risks and issues facing the Muskoka region and its watershed. The government also committed to matching tax-deductible donations from people and businesses to the initiative, and any funding from other levels of government, up to a total of an additional $5 million.
  • In summer 2019, the government appointed nine members to the Muskoka Watershed Advisory Group to help identify the types of projects to protect the watershed and support economic growth in the region.
  • The Ontario government is committed to working with the federal government and Kashechewan First Nation to support the relocation of the First Nation to reduce the impacts of flooding on the community.
  • In spring 2019, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry provided approximately 890,000 sandbags to municipalities throughout southern and eastern Ontario and deployed over 60 Fire Ranger crews and additional support staff to many impacted municipalities.

    Sandbags used this 2019 to protect Port Dalhousie Harbour’s historic lighthouse from rising waters in Lake Ontario. File photo by Doug Draper

Additional Resource

Read Ontario’s Special Advisor on Flooding Report at Ontario.ca/floodreport

Flood Resiliency in Ontario

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