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Flood Resiliency in Ontario


Flood Resiliency in Ontario

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

In July 2019, the Province announced that Doug McNeil had been named Ontario's Special Advisor on flooding. Mr. McNeil was asked to assess current roles and responsibilities of governments, agencies and organizations involved in flood management, including any opportunities for improvement; review feedback received through an online survey and from targeted listening sessions held in the spring; and provide focused recommendations. On October 31, he submitted his report with an assessment of the flooding that occurred in 2019 across the province in relation to the current flood management program.

Mr. McNeil found that: "Based on an analysis of the information available for all of the systems that experienced flooding in 2019, nothing points to human error or the negligent operation of water control structures as the cause of the flooding. The sheer amount of water (snow and rainfall) on the landscape directly contributed to the flooding. Measures taken by water managers everywhere were effective in reducing the magnitude of flooding and associated damages throughout the drainage basins."

The report makes 66 recommendations in the following areas:

Education and outreach

  • Raising awareness of flood risks and mitigation measures  
Guidance & governance
  • Land use planning policies and practices
  • Water management practices
  • Floodplain mapping
  • Roles and responsibilities 
  • Flood forecasting and warning capabilities 
Response & recovery
  • Emergency response
  • Disaster recovery programs
  • Funding
  • Waste management  

The report highlights the complexity of flood management and the important contributions from various levels of government, organizations and individuals across Ontario. In addition to provincial ministries, the report also lays out recommendations for:
  • International Joint Commission
  • Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board
  • Ontario Power Generation
Other key players include municipalities, conservation authorities and the federal government. 


Following the Province's online survey and Flooding Listening Sessions this spring in Muskoka, Pembroke, and Ottawa, the Special Advisor held a nine-day community tour in early September. Mr. McNeil visited Ottawa, Pembroke, North Bay, Toronto, Muskoka, Cambridge, and London to meet with representatives from selected municipalities and conservation authorities and other agencies responsible for water management, and to see impacted areas firsthand. 

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