On Sunday July 15th a number of residents in Ward 35 and across Scarborough experienced basement flooding – yet again! The storm dropped nearly 90mm of rain in 90 minutes – the equivalent of 5 weeks worth of rain in a very short period and flooded numerous basements. In the week that followed, I toured a number of Ward 35 residents’ homes, along with the Mayor and City officials, to review the damage and discuss solutions.
Since I took office in 2010, Ward 35 has experienced two major storms that resulted in floods – August 2011 and July 15th, 2012. My home has flooded several times over the last 9 years so I have become very familiar with this particular issue. Many of us had just completed our basement restoration from last year’s flood when we were hit again. My staff and myself have been working around the clock conducting on-site meetings with every resident who contacted my office. In addition, we have created information packages for residents to inform them about insurance procedures and the City’s claim process.
At this point, residents must go through their home insurance and arrange to have an emergency property restoration company (affiliated with each insurance company) to remove wet and contaminated articles, including flooring, drywall, insulation, and contents. They use fans and dehumidifiers to absorb water and dry the basement. They also spray the basement with a strong disinfectant for contamination. Depending on the amount of water damage to contents, the company may do a list of damaged contents. Every insurance coverage is different – most, if not all, have a cap on sewage coverage at $10,000-$50,000. More importantly, you must have “sewer coverage” in order to make a claim with your home insurance. I am also working with basement tenants on a case by case basis. For those who do not have tenant insurance I have advised them to file a claim with the City’s insurance.
In response to continuous flooding problems, I have conducted several round-table meetings with City Water staff to work towards resolving basement floodings in Ward 35. Staff report the city uses 4 foot pipes that will accommodate a 1 in 10 year storm. The storm that occurred last year and this year were 1 in 100 and 1 in 50 year storms. It would take 15 foot pipes to accommodate water flow to meet capacity for these types of storms - costing millions of dollars in upgrades and each of us thousands of additional dollars in property taxes. However, the problem is not only with the size of the pipes. There are many different reasons for basement flooding, therefore each home must be viewed on a case-by-case basis. Some resisdents had tree root penetration, some had calcite build-up from too much cooking oil being dumped down toilets, some had backwater valves that failed, some are on a combined sewer/storm water main, some have the old Y-system, and many more reasons. As a result I have and will continue to have staff review each situation, identify “problem streets or areas” in Ward 35 and develope long-term solutions with water infrastructure.
Over the past year I have been working with residents on Pharmacy Avenue who have been struggling with basement flooding during heavy storms. There are 10 homes located in a valley depression and due to land topography are vulnerable to flooding. Because of our efforts over the past year, city engineers have designed a solution for these homes to be removed from the main water pipes in 2014. In the meantime, these residents have collectively decided to have a city approved, professional plumber install the backwater valve in each of their homes and they will apply for the City’s Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program.
The Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program assists owners of single-family, duplex and triplex residential homes with a financial subsidy of up to $3,200 per property to install flood protection devices including a backwater valve, a sump pump, and pipe severance and capping of the home’s storm sewer or external weeping tile connection. For information on eligibility requirements and how to apply please call my office for a brochure or review on the City’s website. Please note that you must have the work done by a City licensed plumbing or drain contractor, obtain a Building Permit inspection and pass the inspection and install the specific device authorized by the City.
On Thursday September 6th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. I will be hosting a public meeting for residents who have experienced flooding issues. The meeting will be held at the Warden Hilltop Community Centre. Flyers will be distributed to affected areas in the ward formally notifying them of the meeting details.
If you believe that the City has been negligent in its maintenance of City facilities, roads, trees and sewers, which has caused bodily injury or damage to your property, you can file a claim against the City of Toronto.
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