Federal government commits $73M to Toronto sewer improvements

The federal government will contribute more than $73 million towards improving efforts to reduce the impacts of flooding on homes and the environment in Toronto.

At an announcement Monday morning, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen said Ottawa would help pay for the Fairbank Silverthorn Trunk Storm Sewer System Project. The new trunk sewer system was recommended by City of Toronto staff in a study completed in 2010.

The federal funding will bolster $133 million in City funds already committed to reduce the amount of basement flooding over four wards in north-west Toronto.

“Basement apartments represent a significant portion of the affordable housing stock in the city,” said Hussen.

“This project will help reduce flooding as well as the long-term stress and time lost from work due to floods.”

Hussen said the investment was being made as part of long-term efforts to counteract the effects of extreme weather events caused by climate change.

When complete, he said the Fairbank Silverthorn project will reduce the effects of flooding for more than 11,500 people.

Mayor John Tory said the project is going to help many people avoid problems caused by flooding.

“It is the largest, single basement flooding project the city has ever undertaken,” said Tory, calling the upgrades long over due.

“This area of Toronto, it’s a historic area … it was built more than 100 years ago and as a result some of the infrastructure was built more than 100 years ago.”

He said the project will not only reduce basement flooding, it will help halt the potential of sewage flowing into homes when combined sewer systems are overwhelmed.

“Water would be bad enough. It causes terrible damage,” said Tory.

The project will see the construction of more than 13 kilometres of new storm tunnels and sewers. As a result, there will be an annual reduction of about 120 million liters of combined sewer overflows into the environment each year.

Tory said the work will speed up the process of completely separating the city’s storm and sanitary sewer systems.

“So we can say to people that there is no risk of us having sewage discharges into Lake Ontario,” he added.

According to the City of Toronto, the work on this project is expected to begin in 2021 and last four years.

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