A 20-year plan highlighting how the city of Thunder Bay should move storm water came under public scrutiny at a meeting Wednesday night.

About three dozen people went to the open house where the consultant, who wrote the report, discussed how the plan could help address flooding issues in the city.

Cecilio Olivier

Cecilio Olivier, project manager at Emmons and Olivier Resources, says the plan he is writing will identify ways to improve stormwater flows, as well as water quality. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Cecilio Olivier said the plan he is writing will identify ways to improve storm water flows, as well as water quality.

The project manager at Emmons and Olivier Resources said another benefit of dealing with storm water is reducing the possibility of flooding in parts of the city.

Olivier added the plan will also address issues upstream of low-lying areas.

"Our plan is going to be more comprehensive, and we're going to be looking at areas that [are] not necessarily specifically related to flood areas, but more watershed wide," said Olivier.

Some of the changes proposed in the plan include increasing the size of pipes and sewers, as well as storm water retention areas — like the one at High Street and Memorial Avenue.

Changes will 'protect the citizens'

Thunder Bay resident Gordon Van Fleet said the 2012 flood was a good example of how the city has to slow down the flow of water heading into the sewer.

"Something is going to have to be done,” he said.

“We're going to have to do something to contain those waters, otherwise we're going to have flooding basements, sewage plant, whatever that is, I don't know."

The city is addressing the issue at the right time, Van Fleet added.

"I don't think it's that we're late in doing it, I think we're probably off the ground early on this thing. I think it's very good that the city has taken the initiative to do this."

Van Fleet said the reality of climate change needs to be addressed in the storm water master plan

"The flows in the Neebing River — as I understand it from the Conservation Authority — indicated they were over a 100-year return storm. And our sewers are designed for only … 50-year designed storms,” he said.

“So, when you have something that big, the climate adaptation issue is on the table too … Things are changing, storms are greater, temperatures change up and down.”

Olivier said proposals in the plan are meant to “basically protect the citizens of the city in the future.”

"We’re going in the direction of looking at standards, and things that could be done better in the future.”

The 20 year master plan is expected to take about 18 months to develop.

Storm water master plan panel, Thunder Bay meeting

The 20-year storm water master plan highlights how the city of Thunder Bay should move storm water. (Jeff Walters/CBC)