It has been one year since the City of Burlington received nearly two months of rain (191 millimeters) in about eight hours. The record rainfall on Aug. 4, 2014, caused significant flooding and damage in parts of the city. Roads, highways and more than 3,000 homes were flooded.
In the days after the flood, thousands of people in the community came together to give their time, resources and financial support to help flood victims.
The city worked with Halton Region, the Province of Ontario and the Burlington Community Foundation Flood Disaster Relief Committee and has helped individuals and families rebuild and recover from the Aug. 4, 2014, flood.
On June 30 this year, 272 approved claims totalling $2.7 million were finalized for victims of the flood. That work is now concluded, and many of the families who have received payments have expressed their sincere appreciation to those who donated funds to the relief efforts. A total of $896,000 was raised by the Burlington community and matched two-to-one by the provincial government’s Ontario Disaster Relief Program.
City infrastructure investment
In one of its final acts before rising for the summer, Burlington City Council approved an additional $20.4 million to funds already budgeted for storm water infrastructure improvements as recommended in the City’s Flood Vulnerability, Prioritization and Mitigation Study, conducted after the Aug. 4, 2014, flood in Burlington. This is the comprehensive report has been promised to the community.
Council also voted to approve:
- An extension of the City’s grant program, which helps eligible homeowners cover the cost of building permit fees related to flood prevention home improvements. The program has been extended to Dec. 31, 2016.
- The addition of one full-time storm water management technician dedicated to storm water concerns, such as lot grading and drainage.
- An amendment directing city staff to report back to City Council in the fall of 2015 with funding options to finance storm drainage operations and capital costs, including a review of other Ontario municipalities that have put in place a storm water user fee.
The Flood Vulnerability, Prioritization and Mitigation Study, completed by AMEC Foster Wheeler, assessed the areas of the city impacted by the Aug. 4, 2014 flood to better understand how the City’s storm drainage system works and to look at other factors that led to flooding damage. The City has identified an additional $20.4 million in funding over the next 10 years for storm water management capital upgrades, such as larger creek culverts and creek channel improvements.
While there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of flooding in the city, these infrastructure improvements will enhance the level of service provided by the city’s storm drainage system and reduce the risk of future flooding. The number of extreme weather events in Southern Ontario is increasing. Together, the city and residents have a role to play in protecting our homes and businesses from extreme weather events. A planned public outreach campaign will help private property owners identify flood mitigation opportunities.
For more information about the flood mitigation study and the recommendations approved by City Council, please visit Flood Reports and Studies.
Region infrastructure investment
At its July 2015 meeting, Regional Council, which includes all members of Burlington City Council, adopted the Region Wide Basement Flooding Mitigation Study: Final Report and Recommendations. The report is a strategic and operational plan for the development and implementation of the long-term program to reduce the potential of future basement flooding pending consideration during the budget process.
As stated in the report, in connection with the work already being undertaken within priority areas, the following recommendations form the basis of a sustainable, systematic, long term Region-wide approach to reducing the risk of basement flooding from sewer surcharging:
- Deliver a $60 million dollar system improvement program.
- Develop an Inter-Jurisdictional Basement Flooding Working Group.
- Establish a Permanent Wastewater Flow Metering Program.
- Develop a Voluntary Downspout Disconnection Program based on a 100 per cent subsidy for eligible residents.
- Develop a Voluntary Weeping Tile Disconnection Program based on a 100 per cent subsidy for eligible residents.
- Develop an Extraneous Flow Reduction Public Education Program
- Establish dedicated staff resources to develop, implement, sustain and monitor the Region Wide Basement Blooding Mitigation Program.
A total of $9.1 million has been committed to date since the August 2014 City of Burlington flooding. This includes $4.3 million of ex-gratia grants and the expanded Basement Flooding Prevention Subsidy Program as well as $1.7 million for the Downspout Disconnection Program and $3.2 million for the system optimization program required to implement the Phase 1 work in the seven priority areas as noted above.
The implementation of the Phase 2 Region wide program will require a total of $88.9 million over the next ten years. Taking into consideration the previously committed cost of $9.1 million, the total investment of the program is estimated at $98.0 million.
Of this amount, $63.2 million relates to system optimization and capital improvements with the balance of the cost related to the implementation of a Region-wide full Subsidy Program for the Voluntary Downspout/Weeping Tile Disconnections; additional resources to monitor the program; and implementation of a communication plan.
The 10-year implementation cost of $88.9 million will be identified as a priority in the 2016 Budget and forecast for Council’s consideration.
To read the full region report, click here.
The City of Burlington would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Samaritan’s Purse and the Canadian Red Cross whose dedicated workers spent hours helping Burlington residents most affected by the flood.
In August 2014, 139 Samaritan’s Purse volunteers worked 1,041 hours to assist with 51 clean up projects and the Canadian Red Cross mobilized its volunteers to visit more than 10,869 homes.
We would also like thank everyone who gave generously to the flood relief effort and showed such tremendous resilience and determination following the events of Aug. 4 2014. We are so proud of the way this community pulled together.
Flood mitigation workshop
Planning is underway for my office to host a workshop of municipal technical experts in this area in Burlington in November. Ontario municipalities will share their experience and best practices with the goal of expanding knowledge and extending better flood protection to homeowners and municipalities. We will also be discussing overland flood insurance and the possibility of this product being offered in Ontario in the future.