Flooding Across the GTA Will Only Get Worse With Climate Change
Here’s what the TRCA is doing to keep the damage at bay.
Zorah Freeman-McIntyre, the chef and owner of the Rectory Café, will be closing shop in October because of a huge plunge in business—down about 90 per cent from this time last year—because of the flood.
“Urbanization has to occur in a way that allows the ravines to fulfill their natural function,” says Rehana Rajabali, an engineer with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) who specializes in flood-risk management.
Developments built before the 1980s (and before the region had effective stormwater management programs) have sewer systems designed for two– or five-year storms—weather events that have a 50 per cent and 20 per cent chance of happening, respectively, each year.
A lot of it goes into the storm sewer system which can flood people’s basements.” Unfortunately, it took a disaster to wake the region up to the importance of our river systems, and to our vulnerability to flooding.
“You have less water infiltrating [the earth], less water evaporating, and more water that runs off the landscape.
Still, there are 43 sites in and around Toronto deemed “flood vulnerable area clusters,” most of which are located in historic urban areas that predate floodplain-management plans and stormwater-management practices.
“For these existing flood vulnerable areas, we need to look at larger remediation solutions,” says Dhalla.
Now, Waterfront Toronto, in partnership with the TRCA, plans to restore the mouth of the Don to its more natural state, complete with recreation space, habitat creation for species, and, most critically, flood control measures.
Corktown Common, for instance, shows how well-designed green space can offer recreation space and conservation as well as rigorous flood protection to vulnerable parts of the city.