Applied Plant Ecology
Professor Dawn Bazely
By Bahar Afzalian Naeini
Summary of Toronto’s Floods Since 2000
Since the year 2000, Toronto has been affected by a variety of significant flooding events. Many of these events have caused significant property damage and contributed to potential public health threats. In this blog post, I summarize Toronto’s flooding events since the year 2000 and comment on the current efforts by the city to improve flood responses.
In May of 2000, major flooding affected parts of Toronto after a soggy May in which 67.8 MMs of rain fell on the city (Bateman). 90 power outages were reported during the flood, along with 457 motor vehicle collisions, illustrating the extensive impact of the damage for residents (Bateman). The flooding witnessed during this storm was identified as ‘extreme’ by city authorities, and used as the basis to help inform planning and protection efforts for future flooding events (City of Toronto, Expansion of the Basement Flooding Protection Program, 1). Next, in August of 2005, a tornado outbreak led to major storms and flooding in many neighbourhoods across the city (Bateman). During the heavy period of flooding, the portion of Black Creek underlying Finch Avenue West flooded, causing a huge crater and millions of dollars in damages (Jane-Finch.com).
In June of 2012, flooding would strike Toronto again when the Union subway station was flooded following a period of heavy rains (Bateman). Heavy rains eventually caused the sewer system to exceed capacity, resulting in floods and the temporary closure of the station (Bateman). In May of 2013, the floods would return when the Don Valley flooded following heavy rains concentrated in a short period of time (Bateman). After more than 60 MMs of rain fell in a short time, the Don River south of Bloor experienced flooding, resulting in temporary closures to local transit systems (Bateman).
On July 8, 2013, major floods would again strike Toronto (City of Toronto, Impact of July, 8, 2013 Storm, 1). Following a period of thunderstorms and heavy rains, a number of different parts of the city experienced flooding, resulting in widespread property damage, along with causing power outages which affected residents and businesses (City of Toronto, Impact of July, 8, 2013 Storm, 1). This storm on July 8 further reinforced the need for the City to establish a strong plan to increase awareness of the potential for flooding risk, while also increasing their efforts aimed at preventing floods (Kellershohn).
The city’s current strategy to address water courses affecting private property involves sharing costs between private and public operators, as well as initiatives to transfer areas affected by flooding to public control when possible (Kellershohn). In addition, as a matter of policy, the city prioritizes efforts to clean up potential health and safety risks as soon as possible following flooding events to protect the public health (Kellershohn). The city has also developed an inspection program for the sewer system to ensure that blockages and potential problems can be identified before flooding events occur (Kellershohn). The significant number of major flooding events, along with the extensive damage seen since 2000 has prompted the city to establish a program aimed at reducing the risk of floods, combining education, awareness initiatives, and a variety of practical solutions aimed at lessening the risks associated with flooding.
Bateman, C. “A soggy timeline of rain and flooding in Toronto.” 9 July 2013. Blog To. <http://www.blogto.com/city/2013/07/a_soggy_timeline_of_rain_and_flooding_in_toronto/>.
City of Toronto. “Expansion of the Basement Flooding Protection Program’s Priority Study Areas.” 30 October 2013. City of Toronto. <http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-63918.pdf>.
—. “Impact of July 8, 2013 storm on the City’s Sewer and Stormwater Systems.” September 2013. City of Toronto. <http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/pw/bgrd/backgroundfile-61363.pdf>.
Jane-Finch.com. “Finch Flood – August 19, 2005.” 19 August 2005. Jane-Finch.com. <http://www.jane-finch.com/pictures/flood2005.htm>.
Kellershohn, D. “Reducing Flood Risk in Toronto.” 19 February 2016. Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. <https://www.iclr.org/images/Kellerhson_ICLR_Presentation_160218_dk.pdf>.