Home Insurance

Does Toronto have to do more to protect residents from worsening floods?

By: Jessica Mach on August 14, 2018

A Toronto homeowner was heartbroken when she discovered that last week’s rainstorm had caused her home to flood for the second time in five years — this time with “almost 10 feet of sewage water.”

“The smell was unbearable,” Mary Raimondo-Parato told the CBC. “It was too much to handle.”

Workers from the City’s water department had been at Raimondo-Parato’s house, which is in North York on Seabrook Avenue, for six days. But, at the time of the CBC’s reporting, the workers still hadn’t been able to figure out how the flooding on Maria’s property had gotten so bad — especially since her neighbours had experienced comparatively less damage.

The storm, which flooded several regions in the Greater Toronto Area, had dropped more than 100 mm of rain on some areas in less than three hours.

Raimondo-Parato’s case was especially perplexing because she seemed to have done everything right. When her basement flooded after another storm on June 8, 2013, she’d followed the recommendations of the City to update her home to prevent a similar situation in the future — hiring engineers to assess how the flooding had occurred, and installing a backflow-preventer valve.

The City also seemed to have taken the appropriate precautions, repairing the  main drainage system in 2016. Officials assured residents that flooding would no longer be an issue.

“We're faced with another horrible nightmare ... having to repair what we were told we wouldn't have to do again,” Raimondo-Parato said.

Her case raises questions about whether the City has taken enough — or even accurate — steps to protect residents from flood damages. The questions are especially pertinent now, since storms are set to become more, and not less, common with climate change.

Raimondo-Parato is now concerned that the contractors whom the City hired in 2016 had made a mistake when they were repairing the drainage system. City workers this time around found four misalignments at the point where the pipes from her house empty into the drain on her street.

She is also worried that her insurer will drop her family since they’ve made two huge claims within the span of five years. The insurer is now going after the city for damages.

But Coun. Frank Di Giorgio of Ward 12, York South-Weston, could not say whether the City would agree to compensate Raimondo-Parato because it is too early to tell. Di Giorgio has called for a review of the situation.

“In a situation like that where everyone has done exactly what they're supposed to do but the problem persists… the city needs to go back to: ‘what was the cause of the problem?’” said Di Giorgio.