Toronto takes proactive approach in fight against floods

Published: January 11, 2018

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones



More homeowners are at risk from floods and home insurance may not always be enough. It is expected that more severe rain events will hit Ontario in the future, expanding the frequency and range of floods. Toronto is setting up its protection programs by bringing more protection to properties and overhauling its storm drainage network.

Canada’s largest city has created a Basement Flooding Protection Program. Set up by the government, the program is designed to manage a one-in-100-year storm even. This is above the typical mitigations for a one-in-five-year storm. In other words, Toronto’s program aims to protect the city against a storm that may never happen, and everything below.

The Basement Flooding Protection Program was started with studies in 31 city locations that has been subjected to “significant flooding during storms in May, 2000 and August, 2005.”

Since 2013, the program has been expanded city-wide. The government found out changing environmental effects meant a storm could happen anywhere and cause massive damage. This lesson was taught by a July 8, 2013 storm, which lasted little more than an hour but coast nearly $1 billion in insured losses. It was the fourth worst ever insurance loss in Canada’s history.

This led to the government assessing the entire city is at risk. This “was a really good way to go about” said Glenn McGillivray, managing director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, in an interview. “Toronto is really showing a lot of leadership in the area. It’s kind of a risk management approach to viewing the issue of urban flooding in Toronto.”