In 2013 Calgary and Toronto had great floods, that following winter we had the great cold of a polar vortex. You might think that with these extreme weather realities that Canadians would want to protect themselves from potentially harsh new realities….but no.
Polar Vortex Freezes Niagara Falls:
In the RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study of 2014, which focused on extreme weather and flooding, 3/4 of the respondents realize the increasing frequency of these events, but only 9% have done anything to protect themselves and their homes.
What can be done? These findings indicate there is room for municipalities to modify water policy and practices to incentivize change. We know the next extreme weather event is coming , it is just a matter of when. There is a cost of doing nothing , and that number will grow. The flood in Calgary cost some $6 billion, with insured costs $1.7 billion and growing….plus the social, mental , and physical toll.
Concerns about water issues and storm water management are growing, but only 1% view storm water management as a funding priority. This may in part be due to a great many people not knowing where their water comes from or where it goes…it is just there at the tap. Educating the public about their water supply and the value of water may not be enough. Water permeable driveways can help mitigate the effects of flooding, but even when educated to this most Canadians would still go with paved driveways…
It needs to be communicated that water is not free, there is a cost to collecting it, treating it, delivering it, and those systems need to be maintained and upgraded. Municipalities and utilities have the responsibility for the service, and doing nothing is not an option, they will have to raise rates.
Halifax recently introduced storm water charges in the form of a service fee. If you do something that will increase the need for storm water service, like paving a parking lot instead of using a permeable surface, then you get dinged. On the other hand if you do something that will reduce the impact on the storm water system, through landscaping or on site storage, them you get a credit.
The benefits of these service fees are that we become regulated , educated, and rewarded. Everyone wins.