As flood season approaches, the Ontario government is outlining its flood mitigation strategies.
On Monday, the province announced new and enhanced plans of action, which include “increasing public access to current and timely information to better understand flood risks and how to prepare for flooding events,” and using “improved rainfall prediction data in long-term transportation infrastructure planning.”
Oshawa resident Sylvia Rhodes has lived on the shore of Lake Ontario for more than 20 years. Every year, as she looks out towards the water, she says she sees a little more of her land has eroded.
“We have neighbours who sustained heart attacks and various health issues, some as a result of worry and concern over the waters,” Rhodes said.
The longtime resident says she’s seen the issue get worse in recent years. She can clearly remember the damage from 2017, when dozens were forced from their homes.
Historic flooding brought devastation to homeowners across Eastern Ontario, including Clarington, Belleville and Kingston.
Rhodes says policy changes from regulators of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River could help alleviate some of the damages seen in recent years.
“When the water levels reach a certain height in the St. Lawrence, there’s a hard stop and water is not released from the Great Lakes,” she said.
“We’d like to see that the policy is adjusted so that the pain, if erosion is suffered, if damage is suffered, that it’s suffered equally.”
For other neighbours, including 80-year-old Eric Webster, flooding has impacted his long-term plans.
“It’s really frustrating because we want to keep the property for our kids,” Webster said.
Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster says the municipality, which has been hit hard by floods over the past few years, currently does not receive funding from the feds or the province to deal with the issue.
“It’s not just us. It’s impacting municipalities everywhere. If you’ve got a water front and river flowing through, we’re all spending money on this,” Foster said.
To date, the province says it has provided $7 million in disaster recovery funding assistance to impacted individuals, businesses and organizations as a result of spring 2019 flooding.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry invests $4.7 million annually into flood forecasting.