The recent flooding in Mount Dennis and Weston is becoming an election issue.
In 2017, Frances Nunziata voted against a hard-surface charge that would have paid to fix flooding infrastructure; now Chiara Padovani, one of her competitors, is taking the lead, holding a meeting with homeowners and advocating for a bridge on Jane— recommended at least as far back as 2014—to mitigate flooding.
A maddening article in The Star describes the lost opportunities, and the serious costs to Mount Dennis homeowners:
An earlier study by the Toronto Region and Conservation Authority identified some possible solutions, such as building a Jane St. bridge over the Humber River, but the cost is estimated in the tens of millions of dollars.
“We should be the priority when we’re in a high-risk area,” Padovani said. “Make no mistake — other parts of the city are getting funded.”
Even though flooding has been a prevalent issue in the area for decades, fixing the problem needs political will, Padovani said. She referred to the sale of the flood plain-adjacent land at 200 Rockcliffe Ct. to a meat packing plant, lands that could have helped mitigate the problem.
“We had land that should have been seen as valuable, to protect our homes,” she said. “This is the biggest example of neglect.”
Frances Nunziata, while recently softening, has long been a fiscal conservative (except on the wasteful Scarborough Subway).
One of the problems of living in a big city is that much of the surface is paved over. When it rains, water drains quickly and can raise river and stream levels as well as create flooding in low lying areas. The solution is well known. Plant trees, build green roofs and where possible create temporary holding tanks for sudden water flows. To pay for this, staff last year proposed charging homeowners for the amount of non-absorbing roof and parking surface on their property. These are the people creating the problem so it’s fair that they should help pay for the solution. When Toronto’s Executive Committee considered the matter, following the Mayor’s direction, they recommended voting against the charges.
Councillor Nunziata voted with the mayor when the matter came to a full meeting of council but today has issued a helpful email itemizing what to do if your basement floods. That will be of small comfort to the many people whose lives have been disrupted yet again.
Running a big city costs money. Without a mayor and council with the courage to do the right thing, ordinary people are left to suffer the consequences. Charging people for the runoff they create would encourage a reduction in stormwater runoff and help pay for larger-scale flood prevention measures.
Instead of following staff recommendations, Mayor Tory and Councillors Mammoliti, Nunziata and others seemed place their trust in the short memory of voters, believing their re-election chances are more important than flooded basements. Kindred spirit Giorgio Mammoliti framed the charge as a ‘roof tax’ that would not play well in the suburbs.
Almost every year, a warm spell causes the Humber’s banks to flood causing a break-up of ice covering the river. As the ice breaks up it blocks the flow of water and behind the dynamically forming dam, large chunks float over the now widened river and are stranded there as each section of the ice-dam gives way and the water recedes. It’s a fairly rapid process that’s hard to catch but you certainly don’t want to be in the path of these monsters as they float up to 50 metres from shore.
Hans Havermann has some excellent images from both sides of the river, taken yesterday while it was still blocked.
The retaining wall that was originally to cost $250,000 is now complete and it’s a thing of beauty. The cost has probably risen considerably since the staging area had to be paved with rubble.
The new wall should protect the homes along the edge of the east Humber for centuries. The large limestone blocks in the wall will also provide a home for small animals such as mink.
The temporary bridge spanning the Humber that was used to access the far shore has been removed and the course of the river is back to where it was. All that remains is to restore and replant the staging area then upgrade the Pan Am Path. This should be completed once the sewage pipe upgrade and leash free zone have been completed, possibly by fall 2017.
Do you remember Hurricane Hazel? Or have you just heard the stories and would like to know more? Next Wednesday, October 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Humber Heights Retirement Home (2245 Lawrence Ave. W.) the Weston Historical Society will present, “Hurricane Hazel – Revisited”. Mary Louise Ashbourne and Cherri Hurst will be doing a presentation of what happened that night through the eyes of Weston and its neighbours. Come and listen to heroic and heart wrenching stories of a time when nature unleashed its worst.
Admission is free and refreshments will be served afterwards. Hope to see you there.
Date Wednesday, October 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Humber Heights Retirement Home (2245 Lawrence Ave. W.)
On Saturday, May 7, about 50 people took part in a Jane’s Walk to discover some Weston and Mount Dennis history.
The walk led by Mike Mattos featured guest segments from Alistair Jolly, an archaeologist with TRCA, Simon Chamberlain from MDCA and myself.
After viewing some artifacts including clovis arrowheads, stone axes and clay pipes, we ventured under the Eglinton bridge at Scarlett Road.
Moving up the river from there Mike and Simon led the group to some interesting relics from the early years of West Park Hospital. Established in 1904, for patients suffering from tuberculosis it was then known as the Toronto Free Hospital for Consumptive Poor or the Weston Sanitarium. Since this was in the days before antibiotics, treatment consisted mainly of rest and fresh air. At the time, Toronto’s death toll from TB was considerable; something like 7 people a day. Even then, TB was known to be infectious and city workers fearing contagion refused to collect food waste from the hospital. As a result, the sanatarium set up a piggery and chicken operation on hospital grounds close to the Humber. The farm was self-sustaining and with 1000 hens and 50 pigs, there was no shortage of food. Pigs were slaughtered at the stockyards.
Antibiotics revolutionized treatment of TB and in 1954, the animals were swept away during Hurricane Hazel but evidence remains of the extensive farming operation that was operated by staff and patients.
By the river, there is a small informal pet cemetery that apparently has been used by local residents for years.
The last segment of the walk ended by the weir in Raymore Park and there was discussion of the effects of Hurricane Hazel on the area which led to the forerunner of today’s TRCA, the creation of many of Toronto’s parks and the preservation of this city’s famous ravines.
Another great walk; luckily we had no rain and as a bonus – mosquitoes haven’t emerged – yet!