IBC and FCM announce winners of first annual Watershed Awards to recognize communities adapting to effects of climate change

City of Edmonton wins national Watershed Award

TORONTO, May 29, 2010 – Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), in partnership with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), today announced the winners of the first annual Watershed Awards to recognize Canadian municipalities that have taken proactive measures to reduce their vulnerability to storm and wastewater damage.

The awards, which are part of FCM’s Sustainable Community Awards, were presented this evening at FCM’s 73rd Annual Conference and Municipal Expo(TM) in Toronto.

“Severe weather resulting from climate change has become a formidable foe,” said Don Forgeron, President & CEO, IBC. “Insurers see first-hand the impact and havoc this causes for individuals and communities. The Watershed Awards shine a spotlight on communities that have taken the initiative to adapt to the effects of climate change to protect their citizens and, in the process, inspire other communities to follow their lead,” he added.

FCM President Basil Stewart, mayor of Summerside, PEI, said: “Municipalities are among the leaders in the battle against climate change. It’s important to recognize the most innovative measures being implemented by municipal governments across the country to reduce storm and wastewater damage in their communities.”

The national award was presented to the City of Edmonton for its Dual-Use Stormwater Management Facility Project. This innovative solution uses a school playing field to provide stormwater management and flood control when there is extreme rainfall. It is one of a number of projects implemented by the City of Edmonton in response to an extreme rainfall event in 2004 that flooded over 4,000 basements throughout the city, resulting in $171 million in insurance claims.

(Link to video footage if the embed doesn’t work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ1TH7R1uh4)

Regional Watershed Awards were also presented to the following municipalities.

British Columbia: District of Central Saanich
Integrated Stormwater Management Plan (ISMP), District of Central Saanich
Central Saanich was the first municipality on Vancouver Island to create an ISMP following the guidelines and recommendations of the BC Stormwater Planning Guidebook. The goal of the project was to restore the dispersal of rainwater flows to near predevelopment levels and substantially reduce the damage caused by erosion, extreme variability of water flows, and degradation of water quality. Members of government agencies, area farmers, representatives from local interest groups and district staff worked together to develop proactive solutions to deal with the changes to the district’s stormwater system and natural habitat brought about by urbanization.

Prairies and the North: Saskatoon, SK
The Superpipe Initiative, Saskatoon, SK
Foundation drainage systems (known as household weeping tile systems) that drain directly into basement floor drains were causing significant flooding from sanitary sewer systems after severe rainfalls in Saskatoon. An estimated 50% of households have these weeping tile systems connected to their floor drains, and disconnecting these systems would be expensive. As an alternative solution, Saskatoon provided “superpipes,” which are storage tanks that are constructed from large-diameter polyethylene and connected directly to the sanitary sewer system at elevations lower than the most vulnerable basements. When a large rainfall occurs, the extra flow generated by the weeping tile systems overflows directly into the superpipes instead of into the basements.

Ontario (co-winners):
Basement Flooding Protection Program, City of Toronto
Extreme storms can cause widespread surface and basement flooding when the design capacity of the existing storm drainage system is exceeded. After a severe storm in 2005 resulted in estimated damages of up to $500 million – making it the largest natural disaster in southern Ontario – the City of Toronto conducted a comprehensive engineering review in 32 priority areas. The resulting adaptive management strategy included an integrated systems approach, using source (lot level) controls, minor system (storm sewer) improvements, sanitary sewer system improvements and major system (overland flow) control. Among other advantages, this strategy provides an enhanced level of protection against basement flooding in areas where a major stormwater drainage system does not exist.

Pioneer Park Stormwater Management Project, Town of Richmond Hill
The Pioneer Park Stormwater Management Project rehabilitated an existing flood control facility to protect flood vulnerable areas and existing infrastructure, enhance erosion control, treat water quality, and stabilize the associated watercourse. The Town of Richmond Hill used watershed planning principles and public consultation to develop a facility design that incorporated both climate change adaptation and mitigation components and addressed environmental, social and economic issues.

Quebec: Ville de Saint-Jérôme
The Parc Schulz Retention Pond, Ville de Saint-Jérôme, QC:
In recent years, Ville de Saint-Jérôme has implemented a system of using drainage basins to catch stormwater instead of allowing surface runoff to immediately enter storm sewers. The goals of this new system are to protect the environment and to reduce development costs. Drainage basins are now an important aspect of Ville de Saint-Jérôme’s development and infrastructure planning, which is managed according to a long-term vision for the use of city land. The Parc Schulz Retention Pond Project is an example of the city’s new, environmentally aware approach, and illustrates how an infrastructure project can be multi-functional, offering benefits that are utilitarian, ecological and recreational.

Atlantic Region (joint submission): Town of Appleton and Town of Glenwood, NL
Wetland Sewage Treatment System, Appleton and Glenwood
The towns of Appleton and Glenwood implemented an innovative engineered wetland treatment for their combined sewage and stormwater system. Both towns had older sewage treatment plants that had become costly to maintain and operate. With outfalls into the Gander River, the systems were overloaded and could not meet provincial and federal environmental discharge requirements. The project is the first full-scale municipal application of the Kickuth Engineered wetland technology to operate in Canada. The technology was developed in Germany and adapted to Canadian conditions by Abydoz Environmental Inc. of Newfoundland and Labrador. Although wetlands have been used in Canada before, this technology fully provides the secondary treatment of waste water, eliminating the need for other technologies to support the treatment or the need for larger natural wetlands. It also has the benefit of significantly increasing the storage capacity, reducing the risk of sewer backflows.

About IBC

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 110,000 Canadians, pays more than $6 billion in taxes to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $39 billion. www.ibc.ca

About FCM

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has been the national voice of municipal government since 1901. With more than 1,800 members, FCM represents the interests of municipalities on policy and program matters that fall within federal jurisdiction. Members include Canada’s largest cities, small urban and rural communities and 18 provincial and territorial municipal associations. www.fcm.ca.

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