Ward meetings kick off with $175M damage estimate for flooded Windsor homes

The record breaking rainfall that caused more than 6,116 basements to flood in the City of Windsor caused around $175-million in damage to homes, according to Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.

The average damage estimate per home is nearly $28,613, according to latest numbers from Mayor

Ward one councillor Fred Francis answers questions from an animated ward meeting attendee on Tuesday night. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

The record breaking rainfall that caused more than 6,116 basements to flood in the City of Windsor caused around $175-million in damage to homes, according to Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.

Dilkens provided update on the August flood in front of a large crowd during a packed Ward 1 residents' meeting Tuesday night.

He also detailed what the city is doing to mitigate future flooding in the city following the second flooding disaster in less than 12 months. 

"We're trying to deal with climate change," Dilkens told the crowd. "And to some extent we're guessing."

City staff lined the walls of the South Windsor Recreation Complex, prepared to answer questions on topics ranging from public transportation to neighbourhood watch programs. 

Blame Game

"I figured that the floods would be the hot topic of the day," said Daniel Ableser, whose basement was not one of what Ward 1 councilor Fred Francis said were 1,000 flooded basements in the ward. 

"They haven't done enough," said Ableser, when asked if the city is doing enough to mitigate flood risks. 

"What's good today I think is that there is becoming an acknowledgement that there's an infrastructure issue. It's not simply a 100 year storm issue that happens every year. It's more than that," said Ableser.

"There is an infrastructure issue and, you know, we can play the blame game but ultimately just the recognition that there is an issue is important."

Questions and Answers

As some residents entered animated discussions with Francis, Dave Hanna walked around the gymnasium with a bag full of well-researched solutions he wanted to present to city staff.

"It's more than just a sewer plan," said Hanna.  "It's dealing with mitigation techniques at its source, its mid-point and end techniques. There's a whole combination of things that can happen."

Ward one resident Dave Hanna brought multiple binders full of research he presented to city staff that he thinks could help mitigate flood risk in Windsor. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Hanna flipped through pages of examples from across North America of cities that have used designs in buildings and neighbourhoods that open up water flow. 

"The mayor was good at saying a lot of things that homeowners can do but I think the list is still incomplete - there's more things that the city can do, too."

Millennial Voice

Amongst the chairs that lined the floor of the gym at the recreation complex were Jessica and TJ Bondy, both attending a ward meeting for the first time. 

"It was wonderful," said Jessica, who said she attended the meeting to get answers about a funding approval for a statute she said is being disproportionately funded by her ward. 

Fred Francis listens to questions from TJ and Jessica Bondy at the ward one residents meeting on Tuesday. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

"It was nice for us to be able to interact with him on a different level, on a more personal level and to be able to actually get our questions out there."

The couple own a new home without a basement so they spent the meeting going around the room to make sure their views were represented. 

"We want to be here to make sure that our city is what we want it to be in the future," said TJ. "Not just what the majority of the people here say it is which is a different view from mine."

Councilor Response

Francis said that the last few weeks of have been "heartbreaking" and that he was thankful that no one was seriously hurt. 

"The best thing we can do is be here for everyone," said Francis, who spent about an hour-and-a-half taking questions in one-on-one conversations inside the gym. 

"We wish we could do a lot more than we can but we will do what we can and we'll continue to do more as the days go by," he said. 

The crowd packed a gymnasium, forcing some to stand during a presentation from Mayor Drew Dilkens. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Francis said he fully supports the proposed subsidy program, which would cover 100 per cent of the costs required to install a backflow valve and sump pump (capped at $2,500) while adding that the city is not placing the responsibility squarely on homeowners to mitigate flood risks. 

"No, I think we're all in it together," said Francis. "I think there is a responsibility, obviously, of the homeowner to ensure that they can do whatever they can do to ensure that their basement is not flooding."

The next ward meeting is on Thursday night for ward six at the WFCU Centre – Collavino Hall, 8787 McHugh Street from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.