City plan to investigate west-end basement flooding

One night in the summer of 2005, Darrell Bricker heard a strange sound coming from his basement. When he investigated, he discovered what he called as a “geyser” of water coming up from the floor.

“I tried to stop it but I obviously couldn’t,” he said. “I went and bought a wet-dry shop vac. I spent the better part of the night vacuuming this water and dumping out the bucket.”

Bricker said the basement flooding caused $20,000 in damage, for which neither the city nor his home insurer would compensate him. He said that the city would only compensate for the damage if the flooding was a result of toilets backing up when the sewer systems are overwhelmed.

“It wrecked my whole basement,” he said. “(I) had to re-do all the carpets and … all the drywall had to go too.”

Basement flooding has become a problem in Toronto’s Eglinton/Humber River area. The City of Toronto sent a notice to residents in those areas, last week, to notify them of an investigation of basement flooding in the area. Ted Bowering is Toronto’s manager of storm water management.

West-end Toronto area where City is investigating basement flooding. (WRIGHTBasement flooding_E)

“The city received approximately 50 basement flooding complaints after storms in the spring of 2000 and summer of 2005,” he said. “The number of homes impacted by basement flooding may have been higher, as some residents may not have reported the flooding incidences to the city.”

Both storms resulted from severe weather and caused basement flooding. Because of the proximity of the Humber River and the Black Creek River, in heavy rainfall there is the potential for river overflow and flooding.

Bowering said residents have complained of water coming into their basements through a drain, floor or seeping through windows or walls during heavy rains. He said these problems are due to sewer overflows when the Humber River is experiencing higher than normal levels of water.

Jennifer Cicchelli is the executive assistant to York South-Weston Councillor Frances Nunziata.

“Once the study’s done,” Cicchelli said, “if the result is there needs to be larger water mains, then Coun. Nunziata would definitely fight to make sure that we get the money allocated in the budget to do that work.”

The City of Toronto’s investigation is expected to be completed by 2014, but Bowering said the province ultimately controls the agenda.

“Implementation of the remedial measures … will depend on receiving approval of the (environmental assessment) study from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and available funds for future years from the capital budget,” Bowering said.

Once the study is done, Bowering is confident that the new preventative measures will prevent basement flooding.

Bowering also noted the city’s storm drainage system in those areas is unable to accommodate the volume of water flow during extreme storms. He said examining such conditions forms another part the study..

“The study will recommend basement flooding protection measures that will improve both sewer capacity and surface flow design standards, (to provide) an improved level of basement flooding protection (in) extreme storms,” Bowering said.