March 2020
Ontario Releases Strategy for Flooding Preparedness

2020-03-11 9:31:29 AM

The government has released a strategy to better prepare Ontario for flooding events based on the 2019 flood management report by Special Advisor Doug McNeil. His report detailed the cause of the 2019 floods and included 65 recommendations on how the government can improve managing floods.

This strategy notes that flooding is considered the most significant natural hazard in Ontario and that local governments are primarily responsible for identifying and managing flood risks (with provincial and federal support).  

It is unclear if this strategy will come with additional funding. 

The government-wide strategy has five priority areas. The municipal implications of each of the five priority areas are summarized below:  

Understand flood risks:

  • Ensure Ontarians, including municipal and provincial agencies, are aware of the risks, how it can be mitigated, and how risk management decisions are made through enhanced flood mapping. This will be achieved by the following:

    • Establish a multi-agency flood mapping technical team – will consist of a team of staff from provincial and federal agencies, municipalities, conservation authorities, and academia

    • Led by the technical team, develop a multi-year approach to update flood mapping Maintain flood-related foundational geospatial data

    • Establish a Provincial Elevation Mapping Program

    • Update provincial standards for flood mapping

  • Increase public awareness and education by:

    • Working with Conservation Ontario, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, and others to share best practices

    • Work with provincial ministries and municipalities to ensure the public has access to traveler information and flood-related road closures on the Ontario 511 website

    • Establish communication protocols to inform municipalities of watershed conditions

    • Increase transparency through real-time monitoring of sewage overflows from municipal wastewater systems and work with municipalities to ensure that any overflows incidents are communicated to the public

Strengthen governance of flood risks:

  • Work with municipalities and conservation authorities to clarify roles and responsibilities in identifying natural hazards by creating a regulation under the Conservation Authorities Act outlining the mandatory programs and services to be delivered by conservation authorities related to the risk of natural hazards (i.e. standards and requirements for the delivery of those programs and services)

  • Establish an Urban Flooding Work Group with representatives from the Ministries of Natural Resources and Forestry, Environment, Conservation and Park, Municipal Affairs and Housing, Infrastructure and Transportation, and select municipalities. This group will identify roles and responsibilities related to urban flooding, determine new or emerging urban flooding issues, and develop a provincial framework for urban flooding policy.

  • Change natural hazard policy changes as reflected in the updated 2020 Provincial Policy Statement to better show the link between land use planning and natural hazard management

  • The province will review Ontario’s natural hazard technical guidelines with a focus on flooding and erosion and review existing policies and approaches related to the use of structural measures to flood mitigation

  • Consolidate wetland mapping between municipal, conservation authority and provincial agencies by adopting the provincial wetland mapping standards

  • Work with Conservation Ontario to minimize delays implementing flood proofing mechanisms and the installation of public safety devices on flood and erosion control infrastructure

  • Consider legislative amendments to update the regulation of hazard lands and whether new legislative or regulatory authority is required

Enhance flood preparedness:

  • Maintain flood forecasting and warning and enhance it by:

    • Implement a federal collaborative climate monitoring agreement between Ontario and other agencies to support the sharing of weather data

  • Use science and research to support flood forecasting and warning efforts

  • Maintain Ontario’s road weather information system

  • Construct 24 new Road Weather Information Systems stations across Ontario and provide access to municipal station data through data sharing agreements

Enhancing response and recovery:

  • Finalize the procurement of an emergency management software solution

  • Ensure the process for requesting assistance is “better understood by municipal officials” during preparedness activities and during emergencies

  • Review the results of the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance Pilot Climate Resilience Incentive

    • Determine whether it offers “good value for money”

    • Review program materials to ensure municipalities have clear information regarding eligible items under the program

  • Review the Implementation of Disaster Recovery Assistance for Spring 2019

    • Determine whether changes are needed to make the program more responsive

Investing in flood risk reduction:

  • Leverage existing funding programs such as the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF), the Water and Erosion Control Infrastructure Program, and fund core flooding-related activities to conservation authorities

  • Ensure municipalities are aware of the mechanisms to help finance shoreline protection, such as local improvement charges and area rating

For more information, please see below:

Ontario’s Flooding Strategy: Protecting People and Property

Ontario Newsroom: Ontario’s Flooding Strategy

Report by the Special Advisor on the 2019 flood events


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