Kawartha Conservation
October 16, 2014
Hurricane Hazel a turning point in flood protection 60 years ago
This month marks the 60th anniversary of one of Canada's deadliest natural disasters--Hurricane Hazel. It was the most severe flooding ever recorded in Ontario, occurring in October 1954 when Hazel passed into southern Ontario. Eighty-one people died, and damages, which included the loss of homes, bridges, and dams, were estimated at over $180 million. This led to changes that would help protect against flooding, changes that are still in effect today.
Flooding during Hurricane Hazel - Toronto, 1954
Flooding during Hurricane Hazel, Toronto, 1954. Photo courtesy of Environment Canada.

Following the devastating impact of Hazel, a flood forecasting and warning system was established. Local Conservation Authorities, in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, began providing flood forecasting services to member municipalities.

To this day, we monitor watershed conditions, including precipitation, snow cover, and flows and water levels in rivers and lakes, and issue flood messages if there is a possibility of flooding. See more about our flood forecasting and warning program.

In the event of a flood, municipalities are responsible for flood emergency response, including sandbagging, evacuation, and rescue, with the province providing additional assistance when local capacities are exceeded.

Regulations were also put in place after the hurricane to limit and control future development and inappropriate land use activities in flood hazard areas, as well as protect the wetlands that store water. Conservation Authorities are responsible for administering these regulations in their watersheds.

In our watershed, we administer Ontario Regulation 182/06, Regulation of Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses. Any development near water, wetlands, steep slopes, or other natural hazard lands require a permit, to ensure the safety of people and their property, and prevent new hazards from being created. See more about this program.

So, what were the factors that contributed to the Hurricane Hazel tragedy?
  • The amount of precipitation was extraordinary high, with more than 280 mm within 48 hours; and, the region had experienced rainy weather over the previous two weeks, making the ground saturated with water. This means the holding capacity of the soils and natural storage was already very limited, resulting in very high runoff. About 90% of the precipitation quickly ended up in rivers and streams.
  • The characteristics of the affected drainage basins were favorable to very quick runoff and, as a result, flash floods. These characteristics included steep watershed slopes and high channel gradients, clay soils, and a high percent of non-permeable areas because of urbanization.
  • At that time, there were no regulations that would control development in flood prone areas, so some of them, including floodplains, were highly developed. Many homes, cottages, subdivisions, and trailer parks were located in hazardous areas.
  • There was limited knowledge of hurricanes and their possible outcomes among the general public, so the warning messages that were issued were not acted upon appropriately. At the same time, public knowledge of possible flooding was very limited, as many had never experienced it before.
Over the past 60 years, we have come a long way to mitigate the potential for flooding, by keeping new development out of floodplains, improving stormwater systems, protecting wetlands that store water, and even reducing stormwater runoff on residential properties by installing rain barrels and rain gardens. When there is potential for flooding, we have advanced warning, along with a coordinated response to the flooding. Over the next decades, all of these measures will become even more important as we face increasingly erratic weather due to climate change.
Still time to register for Greening Your Grounds workshop in Port Perry
Want to update your yard, but don't know where to start? Our experts will lead you through all of the steps to creating a personalized plan for your property.

PART 1 - Get Started! - Tuesday, October 21 from 6:30 pm to 9 pm

What is a rain garden? How does a rain barrel work? Should I install a permeable patio? Learn about the newest trends in residential landscaping and how to use them to add pizzazz to your property.

PART 2 - Learn About Native Plants & Ask the Experts - Tuesday, October 28 from 6 pm to 9 pm

Native Plants can add dazzling elements of colour and shape to any garden! Gain inspiration and know-how to create your own natural garden oasis. AND Get one-on-one expert advice about your plans from landscapers, engineers, garden gurus, and staff from Kawartha Conservation and other organizations.

Location: Scugog Memorial Public Library, 231 Water Street, Port Perry ON

The workshop uses a 55-page colour guide to help you make the most of rainwater that falls on your property. The guide below is provided with your registration.

Greening Your Grounds workbook


A one-time registration fee of $20 gives you access to both sessions and includes the guide, Greening Your Grounds: A Homeowners Guide to Storm Water Landscaping Projects. Two additional members of your household may choose to share your workbook, and not pay an additional fee per person.

Register today at KawarthaConservation.com/workshop or contact Holly Shipclark at HShipclark@KawarthaConservation.com or 705.328.2271 ext. 240.
Kawartha Conservation logo   Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society logo   Durham Sustain Ability logo   Scugog Memorial Public Library logo
Making it easier to build on-farm developments
by Jessica Schmidt, the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation

How can we make the process easier for farmers to get the necessary stamp of approval for on-farm developments?

That question formed the basis of a recent workshop hosted with the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, the Durham Region and the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance.

The September 26th event, "Streamlining the processes for agricultural applications to municipalities and Conservation Authorities (CAs)", was well attended by farmers, representatives from a range of municipal departments, CA representatives, and staff from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The result was productive information sharing among diverse stakeholders about challenges and opportunities as well as ways to simplify and otherwise improve processes.

Farm stewardship funding available
Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program brochure cover Funding is available for stewardship projects on your farm through the Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program (SARFIP)! If you a have project in mind, or want to find out more about the types of projects funded through this program, please contact our Stewardship Technician, Holly Shipclark at HShipclark@KawarthaConservation.com, 705.328.2271 ext. 240.

Volunteers needed to help maintain natural shorelines at community parks
We're looking for volunteers to help maintain naturalized shorelines at community parks. Activities will include planting native trees, shrubs, and grasses; removing invasive species; winterizing young trees; and general cleanup.

Shoreline cleanup in Nayoro Park

October 18 - Pine Point Lane, Lake Scugog


October 22 - Garnet Graham Park, Fenelon Falls


October 22 - Riverview Park, Bobcaygeon

By helping out at these events, you will be contributing to a healthy watershed, by:

  • Maintaining a shoreline buffer that helps prevent sediments from entering the lake, while stabilizing the shoreline. 
  • Improving habitat, including habitat for pollinators
  • Preventing the spread of invasive species, and
  • Ensuring young trees will survive the winter and become part of a healthy urban forest ecosystem. 

Hope you can join us!


For details contact Holly Shipclark, Stewardship Technician, at HShipclark@KawarthaConservation.com or 705.328.2271 ext. 240

Work gloves, equipment and refreshments are provided.
Order your trees, shrubs, and grasses today for pickup in April
Buttonbush is a shoreline shrub with distinct white blossoms. Its deep roots help protect against erosion.
We're now taking orders for our 2015 seedling distribution! There are 11 tree species, 8 shrub species, and 3 grass species available, all suitable to growing conditions in the Kawarthas. 

Whether you are creating a natural oasis on your property, building property value, or using plants to create windbreaks, you will find a range of species for your project. 

The shrubs and grasses are especially suited to shorelines. They will thrive in wet conditions, and grow deep, strong roots to help protect your shoreline from erosion.

Visit our website for details about each species, including their preferred sites, characteristics, and the benefits to your property and watershed. Order forms are now available for download. 

Seedlings will be ready for pick up in late April in Ken Reid Conservation Area, near Lindsay.
Upcoming events

Oct. 21Greening Your Grounds, Part 1, Port Perry

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