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Richmond Hill Wins National Watershed Award - May 31, 2010

Contact: John Nemeth, Manager of Water Resources, (905) 771-5495
 
RICHMOND HILL WINS NATIONAL WATERSHED AWARD
Town acknowledged as leader in adapting to climate change in new FCM award category

RICHMOND HILL – On Saturday, May 29 the Town of Richmond Hill was honored by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) with the Watershed Award (Ontario Region) for the Town’s Pioneer Park Stormwater Management Rehabilitation Project. This award, in its introductory year, recognizes municipalities that have demonstrated leadership in their efforts to adapt to climate change by reducing their vulnerability to flooding and water damage.

“We are thrilled to be chosen amongst our fellow municipalities for this award and would like to thank the FCM and the award sponsor, Insurance Bureau of Canada, for acknowledging the Town’s efforts in being a forward thinking community and for encouraging municipalities across the country to learn from others,” said Deputy Mayor Brenda Hogg.

The Town’s Pioneer Park Stormwater Management Project is a $6.3 million, multi-disciplinary project involving the rehabilitation of an existing flood control facility to provide protection to flood vulnerable areas, protect existing infrastructure, enhance erosion control, treat water quality, and stabilize and rehabilitate the East Don River watercourse. 

The facility was built in 1985, but was no longer meeting the standards to which it was designed, and further fell short of modern stormwater standards. As a result, key infrastructure was at risk including Major Mackenzie Drive, an important dispatch route for a major area hospital, and other emergency services including fire and police. Residential properties near the facility could have also been at risk of sewer surcharge and flooding.

“For us, this project was all about protecting people and property,” said Deputy Mayor Hogg. “Our proactive measures will help reduce our vulnerability to ever changing weather conditions and potential storm damage.”

The Town applied a unique partnership approach to the project, leveraging funding from all three levels of government - Federal Gas Tax funds, Ontario Provincial Infrastructure funds as well as earmarking monies in its capital budget that Richmond Hill Council had set aside in a special stormwater reserve. As well, cooperation from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority helped to obtain the necessary approvals and permits was key to its success.

The award was presented at FCM’s Awards of Excellence ceremony at their 73rd annual conference in Toronto and was sponsored by the Insurance Bureau of Canada. The Town shares the award with the City of Toronto who also won for its Basement Flooding Protection Program.


Please see attached Backgrounder: Pioneer Park FCM Award for more information, including a link to the award video.
 

Backgrounder: Pioneer Park FCM Award
 
About the Project
The Pioneer Park Stormwater Management Project is the first stormwater project in Richmond Hill resulting from the “Stormwater Ten Year Capital Plan” – a study that looked at the municipality’s stormwater infrastructure, its condition and vulnerability to changing weather conditions and considered how to adapt the infrastructure to make it more effective and sustainable.

The Town of Richmond Hill utilized watershed planning principles and public consultation to develop a facility design which incorporated both climate adaptation and mitigation components and addressed environmental, social and economic opportunities. 

Through this project, Richmond Hill has taken proactive measures to reduce its vulnerability to storm damage and is providing an example to help other local governments adapt their aging infrastructure to deal with severe weather events.

Construction is currently underway and is scheduled for completion in July 2010.

For more information on the Pioneer Park Stormwater Management Project as well as photos and the award promotion video, please visit www.richmondhill.ca/PioneerParkProject.

Project Benefits
  • Protection of flood vulnerable areas in Richmond Hill;

  • Protection to emergency access routes to York Central Hospital, Police and Fire Headquarters and a major transportation route (running between Hwy. 400 and Hwy. 404) that serves the Downtown Village Core of Richmond Hill;

  • Improved water quality and watercourse habitat conditions with a new stream channel constructed to restore passage for an endangered fish species (redside dace);

  • Enhanced plantings of diverse native plant species, vegetation, trees and shrubs will all provide and improve the habitat for amphibians and other wildlife;

  • Improved community accessibility to York Central Hospital, the local high school and valleyland trails to promote healthy active living;

  • Use of innovative “green” stormwater technologies such as the oil-grit separator that will capture sediment and reduce its entry into the watercourse as well as reduce operations and maintenance costs; and

  • An example to other municipalities on how to adapt their stormwater infrastructure.
Pioneer Park Profile
Pioneer Park is an oasis of greenery containing a tributary of the East Don River, a mature Carolian forest featuring some of the oldest trees in the Town, and a stormwater management facility. A majestic reminder of the forests that once dominated southern Ontario, Pioneer Park’s forest is beyond a doubt a most impressive feature on site. Designated an Environmentally Significant Area by the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority in 1986, the forest links green spaces of the lower East Don River to those on the Oak Ridges Moraine. Heroic community efforts to restore and enhance this precious natural feature have been instrumental to the forest’s sustainability.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has been the national voice of municipal government since 1901. With more than 1,775 members, FCM represents the interests of municipalities on policy and program matters that fall within federal jurisdiction. Members include Canada’s largest cities, small urban and rural communities, and 18 provincial and territorial municipal associations.

Insurance Bureau of Canada
Established in 1964, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90 per cent of the property and casualty insurance market in Canada. IBC works on a number of fronts to increase public understanding of home, car and business insurance. Public understanding is also fostered through IBC’s five regional consumer centres, where trained personnel with many years of industry and government relations experience answer tens of thousands of consumer inquiries each year. is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent in Canada. IBC works on a number of fronts to increase public understanding of home, car and business insurance. Public understanding is also fostered through IBC’s five regional consumer centres, where trained personnel with many years of industry and government relations experience answer tens of thousands of consumer inquiries each year.

 
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