Mayoral candidates should commit to fast-tracked flood action


AUGUST 8, 2018

Tuesday evening’s storm left parts of Toronto flooded and without power. With the full extent of damage from the heavy rain and flash flooding still unknown, Toronto residents are bracing for more rain - and possibly more flooding. With a municipal election looming it begs the question: will municipal leaders take climate action seriously?

“We are hearing stories of flooded underpasses, submerged cars, flooded subway stations, and even people trapped in an elevator with over 6 ft of water. This is what climate change looks like in Toronto,” said Dusha Sritharan, Climate Change Campaigner for the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “The costs of inaction on climate change are simply too high to ignore.”

“We need a Mayor that is committed to taking action on climate change and severe weather,” said Sritharan. “The costs from severe weather are rising year after year, so City Council needs to do far more to keep pace and build a more resilient city.”

As we grapple with the immediate damage, the City of Toronto must implement short- and long-term solutions to deal with the increasingly severe weather and flooding that climate change brings. In the short-term, the City needs to develop a climate change adaptation strategy and adopt financial tools like a stormwater charge to pay for rising infrastructure costs. To keep an eye on the long-term goal of reducing emissions, the City’s TransformTO climate action plan needs to be fully implemented and that means fully funding it every budget year.

“The City's TransformTO climate action plan and a stormwater charge are clear steps forward and yet Mayor John Tory has not prioritized these steps. Council has underfunded TransformTO two years in a row and let years of consultation on a stormwater charge to manage flooding go down the drain” says Sritharan.

In 2017, Mayor Tory and City Councillors voted to scrap a stormwater charge, despite years of research and consultation and neighbouring GTA cities already adopting levies to tackle the rising costs of stormwater management. By separating stormwater costs from the consumption-based water fee, a stormwater charge would have shifted more costs onto the owners of larger hard-surfaced properties with the most water runoff. This would have created incentives and grants for sustainable solutions like rainwater collection, rain gardens and permeable surfaces while raising urgent funds to fix Toronto’s aging stormwater infrastructure.

“From flooding to record-breaking heat waves, we're feeling the impacts of a changing climate,” said Sritharan. “We need a Mayor and a City Council that work to ensure our city is resilient and protects our residents.”


For more information, contact:

Dusha Sritharan, Climate Change Campaigner, Toronto Environmental Alliance

(office) 416-596-0660 (cell) 416-473-7918