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Spotlight Story: Oakville, Ontario

Oakville harbourSituated along the shores of Lake Ontario, the Town of Oakville is taking strides to adapt to challenging floods while increasing community involvement. With several creek systems scattered across Oakville, many residential areas could be at risk of overland flooding. Back in 2008 Oakville completed a Flood Prioritization Study that identified at-risk areas. A corresponding report was released that outlined the impacts of flooding and prescribed location specific mitigation methods. The town engaged community members in the study by hosting three open houses to share information on the project. This study set the stage for future programs focused on flooding.

The Town of Oakville provides residents with information on the different types of flooding that can occur across town, such as riverine flooding, lake flooding, and urban flooding. Currently, studies are being conducted on several creek systems whereby Municipal Class Environmental Assessments will be completed to analyze flood mitigation methods. The Environmental Assessment will also include public consultations. Public meetings are due to be held and contact information is available to community members to inquire further about the project. In addition to efforts focused on the creek systems, Oakville is also acting on the importance of storm water management. The town currently owns 34 storm water ponds and there are more in development. They have been working on a project to assess and improve the current storm water system, and again, have called on the public for their input.

On their emergency preparedness webpage Oakville offers a checklist covering what to do before, during, and after a flood event. This includes how to respond during an evacuation and during the cleanup process. Oakville held a “Keep Calm and Adapt-Emergency and Extreme Weather Preparedness Event” in May 2018 to better educate the population on extreme weather and what steps to take during such events. At this event community members had the opportunity to interact with experts from the region, including representatives from the Canadian Red Cross, Conservation Halton, and the Halton Environmental Network. Mark Robinson of The Weather Network was the event’s keynote speaker educating the public on extreme weather events. Public events like these are key as community members can learn and kick-start their own emergency plan for when extreme weather hits.

Prepare to be Prepared logoThe Town of Oakville put a creative spin on motivating community members to prepare for flood events with the launch of their “Prepare to be Prepared Challenge” this past May. This initiative provides incentive for people to begin their planning for flood events. Each challenge relates to a flood preparedness step, such as duplicating important documents or identifying personal lowlands. For each completed challenge the participants gain points that count towards emergency preparedness prizes. Information is provided to assist with each challenge and supplementary resources are available if participants are interested in learning more on the topic. The challenge also increases the sense of community as people work with their town and continue to learn throughout the process.

Oakville allows for its community members to learn about flooding and extreme weather through a variety of platforms. The town is conducting studies to plan mitigation methods that effectively prevent flooding and protect the community. With engaging events and informative challenges, Oakville has taken the extra steps to inform its residents on the importance of flood preparedness. With such innovative efforts to engage the community and take direct action to mitigate floods, their flood resiliency story is one to follow.

Visit https://www.oakville.ca/environment/flooding.html for Town of Oakville logomore information on flood preparedness in Oakville.

Take action:

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For more information on floods and tips for how to prepare visit FloodSmartCanada.ca. FloodSmartCanada.ca provides people across the country with an easy to use information database full of flood-related content.

Sources:

Town of Oakville. (n.d.). Oakville Harbour. Retrieved October 31, 2018, from https://www.oakville.ca/culturerec/oakville-harbour.html

Town of Oakville. (2018). Prepare to be Prepared Challenge. Retrieved October 31, 2018, from https://www.oakville.ca/assets/general - environment/Prepare-to-Be-Prepared-Challenges.pdf