A multi‐sectoral network of over 50 community foundations, insurance industry representatives, businesses, environmental groups, and green infrastructure advocates have launched a new initiative called Unflood Ontario.

“Flooding is an equity issue as is the broader devastation caused by climate change,” said Sharon Avery, president and CEO of the Toronto Foundation. “We believe green is gold when it comes to recovery. That’s why we’re so excited to partner on Unflood Ontario and promote the benefits of natural infrastructure. It’s an accessible and affordable solution that also produces multiple social, economic, and environmental benefits.”

The network’s aim is to reduce the harm caused by urban flooding by replacing hard surfaces in cities with green roofs, rain gardens, community gardens, trees, and permeable pavement (a.k.a. natural infrastructure). The networks notes that the remedy also addresses the economic and social damage from the pandemic.

“We know the incredible financial harm caused by flooding in cities,” said Craig Stewart, VP of federal affairs at the Insurance Bureau of Canada. “We love that this initiative provides hope. After people have flood‐proofed their homes, Unflood Ontario shows how easy it is to get shovels in the ground and replace hard surfaces in cities with natural infrastructure.”

UnfloodOntario.ca aims to get natural infrastructure in communities across Ontario. Step 1 shows people how easy and accessible natural infrastructure is through fun videos, online resources and actions they can take. Step 2 focuses on ensuring new federal dollars for natural infrastructure go to residents and community groups who want to install natural infrastructure where they live. This approach will help create jobs and empower people to use natural infrastructure to help address the many social inequities deepened by the COVID crisis.

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“We are happy to see the federal government commit to a $200 million Natural Infrastructure Fund in last week’s budget,” said Bryan Rose, executive director of the Niagara Community Foundation. “Now we want to make sure part of it is used to help community members install green roofs, rain gardens and other natural infrastructure as part of Canada’s COVID recovery. Here in Niagara, we have community groups, businesses, and local governments ready to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. They just need the help from the federal government.”

“Too often people feel helpless when they think about flooding,” added Vivian Curl, executive director of the Durham Community Foundation. “Unflood Ontario is the perfect solution to this feeling. The videos, resources and actions are made for everyone in our community, not just engineers, and they show you how easy it is to unflood Ontario, together, naturally. We urge everyone to engage with us on social and visit UnfloodOntario.ca to learn more.”

Members of the network include:

  • Insurance Bureau of Canada
  • Burlington Foundation
  • Community Foundation for Kingston & Area
  • Community Foundation for Lennox & Addington
  • Community Foundations of Canada
  • Durham Community Foundation
  • Hamilton Community Foundation
  • Niagara Community Foundation
  • Oakville Community Foundation
  • Small Change Fund
  • The Community Foundation of Mississauga
  • The County Foundation
  • Toronto Foundation
  • Burlington Green
  • Canadian Freshwater Alliance
  • City of St. Catharines
  • Clean Air Partnership
  • Community Resilience to Extreme Weather, Toronto
  • Conservation Ontario
  • County of Northumberland
  • Credit Valley Conservation
  • David Suzuki Foundation
  • Durham Region
  • Evergreen
  • Geospatial Niagara
  • Green Communities Canada
  • Green Infrastructure Ontario
  • Green Learning
  • Green Roofs for Healthy Cities
  • Green Venture
  • Greenest City
  • Halton Environmental Network
  • Intact Centre for Climate Adaptation
  • Landscape Ontario
  • Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests
  • Municipal Natural Assets Initiative
  • Niagara College
  • Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority
  • Ontariogreen Conservation Association
  • Park People
  • Partners For Action
  • Rain Gardens United
  • Reep Green Solutions
  • Smart Prosperity Institute
  • Swim Drink Fish
  • The Town of Ajax
  • Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
  • Town of Fort Erie
  • Upper Thames Conservation Authority
  • Walker Industries
  • YT Foundation
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