Projects to fix flooding in Jane and Wilson area to start in 2019, city says

Toronto Water says it plans to spend some $25 million to improve the sewer system in the Jane Street and Wilson Avenue area, where a number of homeowners have had their basements flooded in recent years.

Homeowners have been frustrated by flooded basements

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

Toronto Water says it plans to spend some $25 million to improve the sewer system in the Jane Street and Wilson Avenue area, where a number of homeowners have had their basements flooded in recent years.

However, that work isn't set to begin until 2019.

City officials have finished assessments of the environmental impact of some projects, while assessments of other projects are ongoing, according to Frank Quarisa, the acting general manager for Toronto Water. 

"The city has completed capacity assessment studies and is moving a number of projects through the stages of detailed design towards construction," Quarisa said in an email to CBC Toronto.

The city division has dedicated $3.1 billion to deal with basement flooding and stormwater management as part of its 10-year capital plan. 

A homeowner looks at a basement flooded with muddy water in northwest Toronto after torrential rain drenched the area on August 7. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

On the evening of August 7, torrential rains drenched many areas of Toronto. 

Homeowners who live on the north side of Wilson Avenue east of Jane Street, near Epic Lane, for example, said their basements flooded with up to a metre of murky water.

Homeowners also said it was the second time in six years that they 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.

Many said they plan to talk to Coun. Maria Augimeri about their concerns.

City programs aim to help homeowners

Ellen Leesti, spokesperson for Toronto Water, said the city keeps tracks of all basement flooding complaints. 

Areas with the highest number of flooding complaints from the last storm corresponded with areas of the city that received the most rain, she said.

The hardest hit areas in the recent storm were in western Toronto, Leesti said.

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

Leesti said the city is taking a number of steps to prevent damage to homes through its basement flooding protection program and basement flooding subsidy protection program.

In the first program, which is being rolled over a number of years years, the city is trying reduce the risk of flooding through improvements to its sewer system and overland drainage routes across Toronto.

In the second program, the city offers single-family, duplex and triplex residential homes a subsidy of up to $3,400 per property to install and implement flood protection devices and measures. The devices include installing a backwater valve and a sump pump and the measures include severing and capping a home's storm sewer or external weeping tile connection.

Intense rain can overload sewers

According to Quarisa, the sewer system works well when the weather is not extreme and during most storms.

"Toronto's sewers function as intended during dry weather and during most mild rain events. However, 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," he said.

"During high intensity rain events the sewer system can become overloaded, leading to surface and basement flooding."