This week is Emergency Preparedness (EP) Week across Canada and the theme is Plan. Prepare. Be Aware. This national event is coordinated by Public Safety Canada, in close collaboration with the provinces and territories and other emergency management partners. Did you know that Flooding is the leading cause of public emergency in Ontario?
Conservation Halton, like all of the 36 Conservation Authorities in Ontario, shares responsibility for flood management within its watershed as part of its mandate. For Conservation Halton, this relates to surface flooding from creeks and rivers and the prevention of loss of life and property due to flooding through three main services:
- Prevention (Ontario Regulation 162/06)
- Protection (Dams and Channels)
- Emergency Response (Flood Forecasting and Warning program)
Conservation Halton continuously monitors weather and flood conditions in the watershed in order to assess risk and issue flood warnings. Monitoring weather and flood conditions is a shared responsibility of conservation authorities, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and Environment Canada. When flooding is possible or about to occur, Conservation Halton will issue flood warning messages to municipal emergency management officials and the media, as was the case last week when a Flood Watch message was issued. The municipal officials would then take action to warn local residents.
As part of the Flood Forecasting and Warning program, Conservation Halton also maintains and operates flood control structures which include four dams and three (12.5 kilometres) diversion channels. The dams were designed for both flood management and low-flow augmentation and the diversion channels were constructed to convey and in some cases divert flood waters away from historically developed flood-prone areas.
In line with this year’s theme for Emergency Preparedness Week, one area where Conservation Halton has significant impact in reducing flood risk is through planning. Staff reviews development proposals to determine how a proposed planning or permit application may impact upon and / or be impacted by a natural hazard.
Conservation Halton has this regulatory responsibility (through Ontario Regulation 162/06) to ensure works are not permitted in areas of natural hazards in order to prevent the loss of life and property. Key in this is preventing home construction and other development projects within ravines or floodplains.
According to Conservation Ontario, Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities operate over 900 dams, dykes, channels and erosion control structures (asset replacement value: $2.7 billion). Together, Conservation Authorities prevent more than $100 million/year in flood damages.
About Emergency Preparedness Week
Emergency Preparedness Week is a national awareness initiative that has taken place annually since 1996. This year, Emergency Preparedness Week (EP Week) is May 7 to 13, 2017.
It is a collaborative event undertaken by provincial and territorial emergency management organizations supporting activities at the local level, in concert with Public Safety Canada and partners. EP Week encourages Canadians to take three simple steps to become better prepared to face a range of emergencies:
- Know the risks
- Make a plan
- Get an emergency kit
For more information on what you can do to get prepared for an emergency visit the Canadian Government’s Get Prepared website, the Emergency Management Ontario website, or Halton Region’s Emergency Preparedness webpage.