Bill 179

Natyshak seeks relief for flooding victims


By Ron Giofu


Some relief could be on the way for flooding victims if a bill introduced by Essex MPP Taras Natyshak gets the final OK.

A private members bill, known as Bill 179, was introduced Thursday and has passed second reading. The bill is geared towards not only helping reduce flooding, but to help expand the province’s Disaster Recovery Assistance Program and to prevent flood victims from being “penalized” by the insurance industry.

“The impetus of the bill is borne out of the flooding we’ve seen since 2006 including the fall of this year,” said Natyshak.

Natyshak said the first portion of his bill would change the Ontario Building Code and require new home builds have a 204-litre rain barrel to hold some of the water that accumulates during rain events.

“That first provision is neat because it is borne out of speaking with the FIRST Robotics team at Holy Names high school,” said Natyshak.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak

The students have been studying the issue of managing the increasing amount of rainfall in their community.

“These kids are so bright. They are creative and eager to learn and share their ideas,” said Natyshak. “I was blown away by their diligent research and have incorporated the rain barrels into the legislation I’m proposing to help families mitigate the damage that severe flooding has done to homes in this area in the past few years.”

While 204 litres may not seem like a lot, he said that adds up when multiplied over 1,000 homes.

According to a news release sent by Natyshak’s office, there is evidence that rain barrels can be an effective option. The release notes that in Wingham, 1,000 barrels were distributed and with a 58 per cent participation rate, the community saw a five per cent reduction in rainwater processed by the municipality’s storm water management system. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has also conducted two pilot studies on rain barrels; one in Stratford, PEI looked at the use of downspout-connected rain barrels in response to increased claims from extreme weather events and found damages to homes was significantly lessened.

“It’s a cheap solution to an expensive program,” he said.

Natyshak’s Bill amends three acts to further protect victims of flooding: the Insurance Act, Building Code Act 1992 and Municipal Affairs Act.

“It’s clear to me that people in this region are suffering as a result of climate change,” said Natyshak. “The amount of rainfall in the past few years has meant that more and more families have been forced to complete expensive repairs – and also that insurance companies are looking for new and creative ways to deny claims. This bill deals with that.”

The NDP MPP stated that people who may never have had a prior claim can have their claim cancelled or someone may be talked out of making a claim for fear their insurance could be cancelled.

“To me or to the people affected, that doesn’t seem fair,” said Natyshak. “They can’t control where the rain falls.”

There are concerns that entire neighbourhoods could be uninsurable if things don’t change, Natyshak suggested.

There would also be wider coverage to assist those who are impacted by sewer backups, he added, should be bill receive final approval.

The bill has received unanimous support in the Legislature thus far, said Natyshak, but “ultimately the ball is in the government’s court if it is to go any further. He is hopeful the bill will proceed and receive due process.

“It gets the issue on the radar for homeowners and politicians,” he added, of Bill 179. “There has to be something we can do. We can’t do nothing.”