Flooding in Toronto. Photo by Justin Friesen.

Blueprints for Action: Minimizing Homeowner Flood Risk in the GTHA

In 2013, Toronto witnessed dramatic flooding brought on by a powerful summer storm. It overwhelmed local sewer infrastructure and flooded homes and basements, leaving $1 billion in insured property damage and allocated loss adjustment expenses. Combined with flooding in Alberta that same year, affected homeowners faced a $40,000 repair bill on average.

Since then, homeowners have taken little action. According to a survey completed for Public Safety Canada, 74% of Canadians have not protected their homes from flooding and 54% were not concerned about flooding in their area.

In response to these findings, CivicAction and the Insurance Bureau of Canada convened organizations from across sectors to discuss strategies in a regional forum to engage and activate Toronto region homeowners to minimize their vulnerability to flood risk.

The report Blueprints for Action outlines key collaborations and ideas coming out of the forum that can motivate GTHA residents to better prepare themselves for home basement flooding.

Blueprints for Action identifies barriers that prohibit homeowners from protecting their property and outlines how various stakeholders can work with homeowners to improve levels of knowledge and trust, including;

  1. Collecting and enhancing available data to identify, prioritize and communicate risk.

  2. Educating homeowners on the risks to individual properties, what protection is available and the limits of government relief funding.

  3. Using targeted messaging and various channels when communicating to homeowners.

  4. Continuing current methods to motivate homeowners and simplify their fact-finding mission.

  5. Encouraging innovative thinking and activity within sectors such as banking, community, construction, government, insurance, real estate, and utilities.

Read the full report here.

Since the release of our report, work has continued to better address the risks faced by homeowners and Canadian housing when it comes to flooding by the Intact Centre for Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo. More information can be found at their website.

In July 2018, the Toronto Home Resilience Program was launched as a pilot program for homeowners to receive emergency preparedness resources and a 50-point flood risk assessment to reduce basement flood risk. Developed by the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation and supported by the City of Toronto and the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the program provides residents with emergency management resources and a confidential Home Flood Protection Assessment to help reduce their risk of basement flooding. To learn more, visit

On April 3, 2017 CivicAction convened organizations from across sectors to discuss strategies to engage and activate Toronto region homeowners to minimize their vulnerability to flood risk. Presentations by the following individuals helped inform the discussion: His Worship Rick Goldring, Mayor of Burlington; Monika Federau, Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, Intact Financial Corporation; Chris Tyrrell, Executive Vice-President and Chief Customer Care and Conservation Officer, Toronto Hydro; Deborah Martin-Downs, Chief Administration Officer, Credit Valley Conservation; and Blair Feltmate , Head, Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation.


“As we continue to grow as a city-region, our infrastructure must adapt to our needs and be responsive to how the environment is changing. CivicAction’s work has put a critical spotlight on the need to take a forward thinking approach and build smart as we build up.”

Ken Tanenbaum, Vice-Chairman, Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Limited; Former CivicAction Board Member

Report: Ensuring We Get It Right

In 2016, the federal government committed $60 billion in new infrastructure funding over the next 10 years – a critically important investment in the future of Canada.

In response to this new chapter in our nation’s infrastructure story, CivicAction – in partnership with Deloitte – conducted a series of roundtables and interviews with civic and community leaders from across the GTHA, representing the not-for-profit, private, labour, academic, and municipal and provincial government sectors.

The report Ensuring we Get it Right is the outcome of this process, and provides a set of recommendations to help guide sound infrastructure investment decisions:

  1. To be globally competitive, we must be globally connected: the GTHA can be globally competitive if we can strengthen our trade-enabling infrastructure, ease congestion, and increase international investment in local enterprise.

  2. Build the skills to build the assets: investing in the skills to drive Canada’s current and future infrastructure priorities will leave a dual legacy for our communities.

  3. It takes a village: community partners have diverse expertise and valuable resources to offer and can accelerate innovation and inclusion for quick wins and sustainable solutions

  4. The need for speed: we need to be more efficient in order to take advantage of current market conditions and more focused on minimizing disruption from changing political priorities.

  5. The future begins right now: investments in resilient infrastructure will allow our communities the flexibility to adapt and scale to shifting needs over time.

In the interest of unlocking the untapped potential of future investments, consultation participants also reinforced some foundational concepts to guide investment decisions:

  1. Inclusiveness must be woven throughout the infrastructure investment process.

  2. The federal government needs to empower local leadership and autonomous decision-making.

  3. All investments should drive economic growth and improve quality of life.

Read the full report here:

CivicAction’s work is made possible through the support of our core funding sponsors. Special thanks to our infrastructure funding partners:

And our pro bono partners:

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