Two Hamilton councillors want the city to investigate areas of Binbrook and Stoney Creek that have been hit again and again by flooding — including this past weekend.
Brad Clark, who represents Ward 9, and Brenda Johnson of Ward 11 will introduce a motion to get the city to hire a third party for a peer review on some areas of their wards. They'll do it at the planning committee meeting on Tuesday.
"We're planning to ask for a peer review on three separate neighbourhoods to see whether the storm management ponds are holding up (and) whether the pipes are holding up," Johnson said on Monday.
Neighbourhoods are growing rapidly in Stoney Creek, and Clark said he wants a third party to examine whether the city has the storm water capacity to manage it.
"Let's make sure those original grading plans for storm water management plans are working," he said.
Both councillors were inundated with calls after Sunday's warm temperatures resulted in thawing snow. Johnson received about 70 complaints from residents whose basements and yards flooded.
On McNeilly Road, "14 homes got flooded out," Johnson said. "When I drove down there, I was afraid my car would stall. It was just amazing."
The city got about 130 calls from residents with flooded basements this weekend. And many affected residents don't even call the city, said Dan McKinnon, director of Hamilton water and wastewater operations.
"We're not entirely sure what percentage of basement floods get reported to us."
About half of those calls were from floods caused by groundwater, and the other half from backed-up sewers, McKinnon said.
'This is climate change'
In areas of the city with pipes that predate the 1960s — the equivalent of about 600 kilometres of pipe — sanitary and storm water share the same system. That means when there's an overflow such as the one on Sunday, sewers back up, he said.
The city has two grant programs to help homeowners deal with flooding. Since 2005, city council has provided $5 million in compassionate grants for flooded homes, McKinnon said. Since 2009, it has provided $10 million in grants for plumbing that prevents future flooding.
The city has also spent millions in studies and capital projects designed to prevent flooding, he said.
McKinnon has a theory for why incidents such as the flooding on Sunday are happening.
"This is climate change," he said. "Climate change is delivering severe wet weather events that are more dramatic and more intense than we've ever seen, and our systems are not designed for those types of events. We have 2,500 kilometres of sewers that are not designed for that."
Scared to look
The basement of Steff Lampman's Frederick Avenue home flooded in May. She did basement renovations to guard against future flood damage. But when she woke on Sunday morning, she was still worried.
"I looked outside and the neighbour's backyard was flooded," she said. "We had a small pond in ours."
She was nervous as she descended the basement stairs, but when she got there, "it was dry, which was awesome.
"If we hadn't done (the basement work), I can't imagine how bad it would have been."
As it stands, she's looking on the bright side.
"If it freezes, maybe we can get some skating practice in."
With files from Cory Ruf