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Feds pledge $12.7M to rebuild after extreme storms batter city’s shoreline

Funding also set to go towards backflow devices in sewer system

Posted: April 4, 2019

The federal government has announced $12.7 million in funding for shoreline rehabilitation in Hamilton, to help rebuild after extreme storms battered the edge of the harbour in recent years.

Infrastructure and Communities Minister Francois Phillipe Champagne made the announcement Thursday, telling reporters at the Woodward Wastewater Treatment Plant that funding will be used to combat damage from extreme storms brought on by climate change.

“We’ve seen storms and rising water levels in Hamilton,” Champagne said. “These extreme weather events are not just stronger, but more frequent. This is real.”

Sections of the Waterfront Trail were completely washed away and closed for months both in 2017 and 2018 after surging water levels brought on by storms wreaked havoc on the well-loved Hamilton trail.

“Entire pieces of the shoreline ended up in the lake,” said Cynthia Graham, the city’s manager of landscape architectural services. City staffers have estimated cleanup and protection of the city’s shoreline would cost $30 million.

The federal government said in a news release the city will provide the remainder of the funding.

Graham said the city plans to “armour the shoreline” with large stones to protect it from waves, alongside other measures that are still being worked out.

“These areas of the city are some of the most valuable we have,” she said.

The government funding announced Friday will also be used for the installation of new backflow devices in the city’s sewer system, which are designed to prevent lake and harbour water from entering sewers during extreme storms, and therefore lessen basement flooding. Extreme storms is recent years have caused flooding in homes in a number of city neighbourhoods.

Flooding is an ongoing issue in the broader region,as  well. In nearby Brantford, nearly 5,000 people ended up under an evacuation order in early 2018 after the Grand River flooded.

Champagne said it’s obvious that climate change is the root cause of these problems, and communities must “adapt to a sad and complex reality.”

“If we do not invest in disaster adaptation, we will need to invest in disaster remediation,” he said.

Climate change is an issue on which the federal and provincial governments don’t seem to agree.

Provincial Environment Minister Rod Phillips has vowed Ontario “will use every tool at our disposal to challenge” the federal Liberal government’s carbon tax.

“We don’t need a carbon tax to fight climate change,” he said as the new pan-Canadian policy took effect this week.

Meanwhile, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna argues it’s “challenging” to find one thing Ottawa and Ontario agree on when it comes to the new national climate change framework.

“They’ve cut the programs that we were investing in energy efficiency. They’re taking credit for what the previous government did on coal. They don’t want to put a price on pollution. They’re fighting us in court,” she told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.

When asked Thursday if the two levels of government are on the same page, Champagne totally dodged the question.

“I’ll certainly say the city gets it,” Champagne said.

“The people of Hamilton have seen the cost of inaction.”