The City of Markham is taking a green approach to flood control with plans to create natural infrastructure spanning five acres, roughly the size of four football fields, to protect buildings and roads.

“While the Don Mills Channel served a practical purpose, supporting development in the community when it was built in the 1960s,” said Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti. “Our flood control project will serve a greater purpose – restoring the flood plain back to a more natural state. The pond and downstream culvert upgrades will reduce annual average flood damages by $1.5 million.”

As part of the Government of Canada’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaption Fund (DMAF), the City of Markham has been awarded $48,640,000 for Markham’s Stormwater Management Strategy and Flood Control Program. This includes the Don Mills Channel, West Thornhill, and Thornhill Community Centre & Library projects.

These three key projects will increase the capacity of an overloaded storm sewer system and protect neighbourhoods from potential flooding and sewer backup, while reducing both property damage and the devastating effects on residents and business owners.

Mary Ng, minister of small business & export promotion and member of parliament for Markham-Thornhill, joined Mayor Scarpitti for this important announcement. She outlined the federal government’s plan to invest in green infrastructure that helps communities cope with the effects of extreme weather.

“Extreme weather events are becoming worse and more frequent in communities across Canada,” said Minister Ng. “It is time to take concrete steps to adapt to the impacts of climate change to ensure a safe, prosperous future for our families, our businesses, and the environment. Investing in Markham’s Stormwater Management Strategy and Flood Control Program is highly important. This will ensure that our homes and businesses, and vital services our community relies on are protected.”

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The Don Mills Channel industrial area is particularly vulnerable to floods. This project involves reclaiming the flood plain, creating a storage pond and restoring the Don River watershed to its natural state. The naturalization of this area will reduce flood damages, attract natural species and reduce flooding downstream. When the pond is completed, five-year storm flood levels will be one and a half metres lower and small storms will stay in the channel instead of rising up the sides of the buildings.

“Markham’s older neighbourhoods were designed with limited infrastructure capacity to handle extreme rainfall,” said Mayor Scarpitti. “Through Markham’s Flood Control Program, we continue to upgrade existing infrastructure to improve flood resiliency and protect our neighbourhoods against the effects of climate change or extreme rainfall, ensuring our residents feel safe now and for future generations.”

Past floods in 2005, 2014, and 2017 in Markham have caused significant damage. These infrastructure improvements will help protect vulnerable communities and businesses, reducing flood damages by $575 million over the life of the projects.

Markham’s Flood Control Program is a long-term, city-wide strategy to improve extreme weather resiliency and limits overland and basement flooding risks in urban areas.

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