Windsor

City of Windsor approves $4.9B master plan to tackle flooding

City council approved a $4.9 billion plan with a series of short and long-term initiatives that aim to reduce flooding in Windsor. 

Rainfall in 2017 flooded 6,000 basements across the city

Flooding in east Windsor on Aug. 29, 2017. (Lynn Baker/Submitted Photo)

City council approved a $4.9 billion plan with a series of short and long-term initiatives that aim to reduce flooding in Windsor. 

The Sewer and Coastal Flood Protection master plan, which seeks to lower the risk and impact of basement and surface flooding, was passed by councillors during a virtual meeting Monday. 

Over the last 10 years, the city has seen significant levels of rain that have severely damaged homes. Most recently, storms that took place in 2016 and 2017, led to insured losses totalling $300 million, according to a report to council. 

Two days of heavy rainfall in August 2017 flooded 6,000 basements across the city and is known as the largest single flood event in Windsor's history. 

The plan approved Monday seeks to make several changes across the city over the coming decades to reduce flooding and the impact it has on residents.

A heat map from the City of Windsor shows incidents of basement flooding from the record rainfall that pummelled the city on Aug. 28 and Aug. 29. (City of Windsor image)

Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens said he was excited that a master sewer plan was coming to council to better equip the city with flooding prevention measures. 

"This plan talks about the comprehensive way forward, how to deal with all the challenges we know exist," Dilkens said during the meeting. 

Flooding in east Windsor on Aug. 29, 2017. (Lynn Baker/Submitted Photo)

The solutions recommended in the master plan focus on both public and private improvements from changing the city's sewer system and bettering coastal flood protection to infrastructure changes that homeowners can implement. 

"It's important for the public to know that we've heard their concerns," said the city's senior engineer Anna Godo, who is working on the plan and authored the reports that went to council. "We've reacted to the problems that came up when we had some significant extreme rainfall events over the last few years and we're trying to provide them with information as to how they can reduce their risk." 

In the fall, the plan will undergo a 30-day review and then seek a final financial approval. 

Thousands of basements in Windsor-Essex were damaged after two days of heavy rain in August 2017. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

While Dilkens said he recognizes the significant financial commitment of the plan, in the long-term he said it will pay off. 

"Every one of these investments will lead to some incremental improvement which means fewer people will have problems," he said.

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