Homeowners mopping up basements say city needs to do more to prevent flooding

Some homeowners in northwest Toronto are mopping up on Wednesday after torrential rain on Tuesday flooded their basements with up to a metre of water.

Residents on Wilson Avenue east of Jane Street plan to talk to their local councillor

Two Toronto homeowners use buckets to scoop sewer water out of their basement following a rain storm on Tuesday. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Some homeowners in northwest Toronto are mopping up on Wednesday after torrential rain on Tuesday flooded their basements with up to a metre of water.

The homeowners, who live on the north side of Wilson Avenue east of Jane Street, near Epic Lane, said it's the second time in six years that they have had to clean up after a major storm. They said the rain overwhelmed the local sewer system and they believe the city needs to do more to prevent flooding in the future.

Flood protection devices recommended by the city after the last storm, including sewer backwater valves and sump pumps, are clearly not working, they said. The devices did not stop the flow on Tuesday.

Teodora Susana Luna, a Wilson Avenue homeowner, said the water seeped into her basement on Tuesday shortly after the rain began falling. The stormwater, which appeared muddy, began to recede overnight.

"Terrible," she said, when asked how she felt about the damage to her home.

Luna acknowledged the losses are material in nature but said they are a setback.

"It's very bad for us," Luna said.

Teodora Susana Luna, a Wilson Avenue homeowner, says she feels 'terrible' about the flooding in her home after a rain storm on Tuesday. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Tan Trong Nguyen, another Wilson Avenue homeowner, agreed, saying residents will try to talk to Coun. Maria Augimeri about their concerns.

In his home, the water receded completely overnight, but damage was done to appliances, kitchen cabinets and the downstairs bathroom.

"It's still wet, but there's no water," he said. "We are very tired. Last night, the whole neighbourhood was sad that this happened again."

Nguyen said he has already contacted his insurance company.

"We don't know what the city can do now," he added.

Tan Trong Nguyen, a Wilson Avenue homeowner, says: 'Last night, the whole neighbourhood was sad that this happened again.' (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters on Wednesday that the city is aware of flooding concerns after the rainstorm on Tuesday night.

Tory said the city has been making major investments in infrastructure to prevent flooding in neighbourhoods in the past few years.

"The city, as part of its capital plan, as we speak, is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in various measures that are designed to mitigate everything from basement flooding and to flooding taking place elsewhere," he said.

"I've been to neighbourhoods and seen the work being done."

Tory said the projects are designed to help city infrastructure cope with storms and in light of ongoing development.

On its website, the city says it offers owners of single-family, duplex and triplex residential homes a subsidy of up to $3,400 per property to install flood protection devices. 

"With increasingly frequent severe weather events, it is essential that homeowners take appropriate action to reduce the risk of basement flooding," it reads.

Muddy water filled a basement in North York on Tuesday after torrential rain drenched parts of the city. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Significant investment in storm water management infrastructure

Meanwhile, acting general manager for Toronto Water, Frank Quarisa, said the city's sewers function as intended during dry weather and during most mild rain events. 

But he said as Toronto is experiencing more severe weather events, with higher rainfall levels occurring over a short period of time, pressure on the sewer and road drainage systems is increased. 

"During high intensity rain events the sewer system can become overloaded, leading to surface and basement flooding," Quarisa said in a written statement to CBC Toronto.

He said the city is dealing with the adverse impacts of storm water — rain and melted snow — through the Wet Weather Flow Master Plan.

"The ultimate goal is to improve water quality and improve ecosystem health in our watersheds and along our waterfront."

Toronto Water says its investment in storm water management infrastructure is significant, with a 10-year capital plan as of 2018 that includes $3.1 billion for storm water management.

With files from Tony Smyth

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