The Red Hill Valley Parkway had to be shut down from the QEW to Barton Street due to flooding.
Are you surprised by the difficulty the Redhill Parkway seems to have during heavy rainfalls? Is this a design issue in your view, or simply due to the havoc such heavy rains naturally cause?
See CATCH release pasted below
CATCH News – July 9, 2010
Red Hill Valley floodway
With the Red Hill Parkway closed by flooding today for the fourth time in less than a year, city officials are grappling with the state of the city’s infrastructure in the face of global climate change. However, it appears a major city initiative to pay for stormwater costs by taxing parking lots and other impermeable surfaces may have been abandoned.
City staff presented a report last November that recommended finalizing a new stormwater rate by June of this year that would tax parking lots and other impervious surfaces of malls, big box complexes and institutions like McMaster to deal with the runoff from these properties. That was expected to raise $38 million a year for stormwater management, alongside $28 millio n to be collected from homeowners.
This approach was recommended by the Storm Event Response Group (SERG), an independent expert panel set up by the city after over 1700 homes were flooded in the summer of 2005. SERG reiterated its support for a stormwater rate in its final report last year.
But councillors balked at the idea of a “rain tax”, responding to last November’s report by ordering their staff to do additional public consultation before “return to council in June 2010 with a Stormwater Rate by-law for council’s consideration”. With no more council meetings until early August, that report and bylaw have not appeared, and there’s been no evidence of a public consultation process since last November’s debate.
Since SERG was set up, there have been 10 more storm events that qualified flooded homeowners for the city’s compassionate grant program – not including this year’s problems. Extreme rainfall is a well-known outcome of the rising temperatures associated with global climate change since the water holding capacity of the atmosphere increases 7 percent for each rise of one degree Celsius.
“Across the planet, flood damage is increasing by 5 percent a year,” says climate journalist Bill McKibben in his most recent book, Eaarth. “Data show dramatic increases – 20 percent or more – in the most extreme weather events across the eastern United States, the kind of storms that drop many inches in a single day.”
A comprehensive Stormwater Rate Feasibility Study prepared for the city by AECOM notes that stormwater maintenance costs are currently paid through water and sewer rates, but those charges are based solely on how much water is consumed by each property, not the amount of impervious area or some calculation of the runoff generated.< /div>
“The city has experienced financial challenges under the present funding system, particularly during wetter than average years,” concludes the report. “Given the high treatment costs during wet periods, the city has a fundamental need for a stable and dedicated stormwater management funding mechanism; one that reduces or elimi nates the current reliance on volatile metered water revenue.”
The study notes that Hamilton has “one of the largest, oldest and most complex stormwater drainage systems” in the Great Lakes area, and calculates it would cost $2 billion to replace it. It also concludes that average stormwater spending in 2001-2008 was a little less than $30 million a year, while the required level is $66 million.
“Funding through a stormwater rate has the primary advantages of a fair and equitable allocation of charges to property owners. It is a sustainable, stable and dedicated funding source, provides incentive opportunities to reduce stormwater runoff and pollutant discharge, and it provides a mechanism to charge tax-exempt properties for municipal SWM services.”
Acknowledging that specific stormwater charges are “relatively new in Canada”, the report says there are over 1000 municipalities in the US who use this mechanism, most of them basing the rates on amount of impervious surface. To determine the appropriate fees, the study examined 2100 Hamilton residential properties and determined t he average impervious area to be 215 square metres. It was 301 square metres for the average single family house, 177 for townhouses and 52 per high-rise units.
City staff in their November report called for rates to be based on $6 per month for an average single family home. That would generate in excess of $50,000 a year from large impervious facilities like a Wal-Mart store.
The AECOM study says shifts in global climate as significantly worsening the challenges faced by municipal pipes and other stormwater facilities.
“The impacts of climate change include an increase in the frequency and severity of severe storms and more rapid snowmelt events in Southern Ontario. Consequently, municipalities can expect more frequent exceedances of stormwater design limits. Future infrastructure planning, design, and construction projects based on climate change will place further financial stress on municipalities and their ability to fund stormwater services.”