Flooding & Infrastructure

It is appropriate to discuss infrastructure after last night's rain storm.  From the onset, the amount of rain and the damage seemed disproportionate to what we should except.  Should a steady rain over a few hours have the ability to cripple parts of the city?  Are we complacent in funding solutions of our ageing infrastructure? Should we expect blackouts to accompany any rain in parts of the city?

In 2013, Toronto (and especially Etobicoke) were hit with two separate weather related events.  The flooding in the summer and the ice storm near Christmas were devastating to the day to day lives of many residents.  Flooded basements, blackouts, cars stuck on the road overcome with water and a sense of chaos were the first signs of a need to spend on improving our infrastructure.  Having a multi-day blackout and destruction of Toronto's important tree canopy in December left many families scrambling at Christmas to stay warm.  Without power, there was also the chance of causing further damage to homes as water could freeze.

How did we get to this point of being overcome by simple storms to such an extent?  

  • Underfunded Infrastructure spending
  • Increase in development
    • Stress on current infrastructure
    • Removal of green space/trees which help mitigate erosion
  • Residents unaware of who to contact or where to find information
    • Lack of centralized information source
  • Household preparedness (emergency kits with food & water)

I believe most residents need a bit more information than a tweet from the City of Toronto.

Overall residents I've spoken to just want to know how the city is going to respond to weather related events.  Residents want to know how preventative measures will be put into place.  The worst aspect about weather emergencies is who to contact or the timeline for issues like blackouts or closures of transit or highways clearing.  Flooding on the far side of the city can still have a significant impact to a community not directly effected.  

Residents need to take a moment to ask themselves if they are prepared for a weather related event.  Do you have food and water in case of an emergency in both your home and your vehicle?  Do you know who to call, where to look for information about a particular event?  Have you weatherproofed your home and made sure you clean all drainage pipes or cleared snow from around your home to prevent flooding?  

No one wants a repeat of the 2013 flood and ice storm.  Many residents are expecting the city and also council to make decisions that will help preparation and prevention.

The Toronto City Manager is preparing a report for the July 2 meeting of Executive Council.  The report will review the outcomes and will be fully posted when complete.  A link to the "IS TORONTO WEATHER PREPARED?" is available for further information.

The city also has a page with more information on PREPARING FOR EMERGENCY WEATHER AND EVENTS that goes into detail about how to be informed about events and how to prepare.  I suggest you take a moment to read some of the information, especially the EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS ACTION PLAN.  

One of the platforms of my campaign is Infrastructure.  I have put Emergency Preparedness as a policy that needs to be discussed and acted upon.  Having lived through two major weather related events last year and the increasingly number of regular blackouts, it is important to make sure that council are protecting residents.

What else can be done?  Please leave a comment or email to info@peterfenech.ca any thoughts or suggestions to improve Toronto's preparedness to weather related events.

Posted on June 26, 2014 .