Ontario Government Working to Protect People and Property from Flooding

Strategy Outlines Next Steps to Reduce Flooding Risk and Increase Preparedness

For two of the past three years, the Lakeside Park and harbour area along the Lake Ontario shores of Port Dalhousie in Niagara, Ontario  have been swamped like this, causing costly damage and loss of use of the area for the spring and early summer.    file photo by Doug Draper

News from Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Posted March 9, 2020 on Niagara At Large

City of St. Catharines built walls of sandbags in spring of 2019 to hold back rising lake water at Lakeside Beach. File photo by Doug Draper

The Ontario government is taking action to protect people and communities from the effects of flooding by reducing flood risk and helping Ontarians to be better prepared for flooding events.

“We know that we can’t prevent flooding in Ontario – we can only become more resilient to it,” said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “Our strategy is designed to increase public awareness and help us to be better prepared and equipped to respond to the devasting effects of flooding.”

“We’re listening to people from across the province who have been affected by flooding, and that is why we’re taking a whole-of-government approach and calling on the federal government, our municipal partners, conservation authorities, industry and Indigenous communities to work with us to implement the actions contained in this strategy.”

Ontario’s Flooding Strategy focuses on five priority areas:

  • Understanding Flood Risk through updated floodplain mapping and increasing access to flood-related information.
  • Strengthening Governance through provincial policy to ensure local development is directed away from areas where flooding and erosion present unacceptable risks.
  • Enhancing Flood Preparedness through the use of state-of-the art science and technology.
  • Enhancing Response and Recovery by improving how we receive and respond to municipal requests for assistance.
  • Investing in Flood Risk Reduction by working with the federal government to increase investment in critical areas like mapping and infrastructure.

“Building healthier and safer communities is our top priority and that’s why we’re taking action to strengthen the province’s preparedness for flooding,” said Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure and MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.  “We’ll continue to speak with Ontarians and we’ll keep learning more as the strategy is implemented.”

The government’s flood strategy was informed by public consultations and the expert advice of Doug McNeil, Ontario’s Special Advisor on Flooding. 

Quick Facts

Lakeside Beach along shores of Lake Ontario in St. Catharines under water. file photo by Doug Draper

The government has provided disaster recovery funding assistance of over $7 million to affected individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations as a result of spring 2019 flooding.

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.

Background Information

Protecting People and Property: Ontario’s Flooding Strategy

Additional Resources

Protecting People and Property: Ontario’s Flooding Strategy

Information for property owners on flood preparedness and recovery (Ontario.ca/floods)

A Note from Niagara At Large – NAL is also including this response to the above news release, issued this March 9th, 2020, from Ontario’s Official Opposition New Democratic Party – 

NDP Environment critic Ian Arthur made this statement in response to the Ford government’s announcement on flood preparedness:

The historic lighthouse in Port Dalhousie in Niagara, Ontario has been undergoing expensive repairs from damage caused by unusually high lake levels in recent years. file photo by Doug Draper

QUEEN’S PARK — “Ontarians are rightfully concerned about increased flooding events, which experts confirm is a consequence of climate change.

Today’s announcement by Ford’s Minister of Natural Resources makes clear that this government will not reverse its cuts to much-needed flooding prevention programs. In fact, today’s announcement did not include one thin dime.

Ford’s last budget slashed the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks’ annual budget by nearly half. Soon after, the government ordered conservation authorities and municipalities to cut key programs like those that prevent and mitigate flooding by monitoring and supporting watersheds.

This morning, the Minister of Natural Resources, John Yakabuski, told journalists that today’s announcement was ‘not about funding.’ How does the minister expect flood prevention to happen if his government has taken the very resources needed to ensure communities and property are kept safe?

The minister has not only ignored flooding experts’ pleas for government funding, he has ignored the advice of his own special advisor on flooding, whose independent review stressed that Ontario has seen increased flooding due to climate change, and that fresh funding is needed to combat further risks.”

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2 responses to “Ontario Government Working to Protect People and Property from Flooding

  1. Linda McKellar

    If they really want to “understand flood risks” as part of their “flood strategy”, they simply need to quit denying climate change and allowing rampant development in areas prone to flooding. They’re also destroying forests and wetlands that absorb water, act as buffers and prevent erosion. Asphalt doesn’t absorb water.
    The $7 million assistance to victims that they are talking about is going to be a drop in the bucket as long as they ignore the elephant in the room.

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  2. You can tell this announcement was just going to be B.S. from the Minister’s first remarks: “We know that we can’t prevent flooding in Ontario – we can only become more resilient to it,” said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. Oh yes you can prevent flooding. Not all of it but certainly a lot of it. Change the building code to require permeable paving and rain gardens on new builds. Put a budget behind reforestation in urban and rural areas. Put stronger wording into Provincial Policies so that existing wetlands are actually protected from development and so that they have appropriate buffers around them. Put a budget behind the naturalization of buffer strips along creeks and stream. Invest in flood plain mapping to ensure there is no new building on flood plains. Provide financial help to relocate those in flood-prone areas.

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