November 25, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO – This morning Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 11, University-Rosedale) was joined by representatives from the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) and the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition (GIO) to speak in support of a new stormwater charge for parking lots, and to propose expanding the consultation to include industrial and commercial properties; including calling on the City to explore incentives that encourage businesses to undertake green infrastructure projects that will save them money and increase Toronto’s resilience to extreme weather.
"A new stormwater charge for companies would be a significant first action to realize the goals laid out in our City’s recent climate emergency declaration and resilience strategy," said Councillor Layton.
Currently, parking lots and other large properties in Toronto do not pay their fair share of stormwater management costs and there is no incentive to adopt climate-friendly solutions like green infrastructure that can help reduce flooding.
“As Toronto faces more intense rainstorms and floods, as well as the challenges of urban growth and aging infrastructure, stormwater pricing is the type of responsive tool our city needs to adapt to climate change,” said Heather Marshall, Campaigns Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “We need to ‘climate proof’ all of our existing infrastructure from the extreme weather Toronto is facing, not just parking lots,” said Marshall.
A large paved parking lot sends a lot of rainwater down the storm sewer, yet they are not paying for stormwater management because they don’t have a water meter. According to Toronto Water, there are 5,500 large properties that account for only 1% of all properties in Toronto represent 42% of all hard surfaces.
If the City introduces stormwater pricing, these types of properties will be charged a fee based on how much rainwater runs off their property into the City’s stormwater infrastructure. “Introducing a ‘flood fee’ for parking lots will raise revenue urgently needed to repair and replace stormwater infrastructure we all depend on, a cost that has been unfairly paid for only by water customers,” said Layton.
“The proposed stormwater fee and incentive program will encourage more adoption of green infrastructure, ultimately building resilience and creating a healthier more vibrant city'' said Jenn Court, Executive Director of the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition.
Green infrastructure solutions include natural systems like green space or green roofs that absorb rainwater and more technical solutions like permeable paving or cisterns that collect and reuse rainwater. When a stormwater fee is coupled with a financial credit program, a property that significantly reduces the amount of stormwater they release into the storm sewer can be reassessed and have their fees reduced.
These proposals will be considered by Budget Committee on November 25, and by City Council on December 17. Councillor Layton and deputants from TEA and GIO will be encouraging Budget Committee to expand the scope of the consultation beyond parking lots to include all industrial and commercial properties.
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Stephanie Nakitsas, Chief of Staff, Councillor Mike Layton
Heather Marshall, Campaigns Director, Toronto Environmental Alliance
Jennifer Court, Executive Director, Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition