Burlington is making progress on eliminating contaminants in storm water run-off into Hamilton Harbour, through low impact development and other techniques, but a dedicated storm water fee won’t be considered till after the next election.
A staff report to Committee of the Whole Sept. 25 provides an update on progress made towards implementing recommendations from a 2016 report prepared by the Urban Runoff Burlington Task Group, a sub-group of the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan.
Among the recommendations currently in progress or complete:
- Incorporating low impact development (LID) during road reconstruction, including bottomless catch-basins, infiltration trenches, soak away pits, permeable pavers, rain gardens, perforated pipes and Silva-Cell tree planting.
- Maintaining the road and swale system for stormwater runoff in Aldershot, which has 19 direct outlets and 40 indirect outlets into Hamilton Harbor.
- Setting target limits for total phosphorus and suspended sediment to be incorporated into the city’s Storm Sewer Discharge By-law.
- Funding, with the province, the Home Flood Protection Program, coordinated by the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo, which offers residents a home inspection and recommendations to reduce flooding, including from stormwater runoff.
- Working with Conservation Halton to present the “Healthy Neigboursheds – Homeowner Workshop Series” to provide residents with LID landscaping and Rain Garden design suggestions.
Implementing a storm water user fee that would charge property owners based on the amount of storm water runoff they generate will be postponed for reconsideration in the next term of Council. Currently Burlington’s stormwater management is funded through general property taxes and development charges, irrespective of the load each property type (eg. Residential, multi‐residential, institutional, commercial and industrial) contributes to the public waste/stormwater system.
Stormwater user fees have been implemented in Kitchener, Waterloo, Mississauga, London, Aurora, St. Thomas, Richmond Hill, and Markham.
The staff update report and 2016 recommendation report are available on the COW Sept. 25 Agenda.
My Take: We must reduce contaminants flowing into our lakes and streams, our drinking water source. This is particularly critical as urban intensification and development removes more greenspace, a natural stormwater absorbent. Low impact development and preserving urban greenspace are both essential. I’m also open to exploring a storm water fee that would charge according to use (as we do water and wastewater).