Words and inset photo by Mike Douglas
Flood photo by Al Haines

Imagine being gripped with fear every time it rains because last year you saw five feet of water rushing across your street and it cost you your home. Connie McClure has nightmares about rain and basements, as do many of her neighbours adjacent to Cooksville Creek.

On July 8, 2013, little Paisley Circle in Cooksville, just east of Hurontario, suffered its second “once in a hundred years” storm in four years. This time, the rain was record-setting. The rushing Cooksville Creek rose by 10 feet in a few hours, sending water over the bridge and onto the street, eventually knocking in two foundation walls and flooding the basement and main floor of her home on its picturesque lot.

Neighbours’ homes were also flooded, and water hurled vehicles, a garage, trees and debris across the pleasant neighbourhood, terrifying residents and costing many a fortune. One year later, it rained hard on July 8, 2014, and Connie gulped equally hard. She went to the Paisley Boulevard bridge to see the creek rising again.

Today, Connie and husband Daniel Lamy rent the house across the street from their ill-fated home. The rental’s owners couldn’t take the thought of another flood and moved away, but they loved the Circle so much that they couldn’t sell, so renting to old neighbours in need was a good solution for both families.McClure’s spirits are improved with the recent news that their insurance settlement will reimburse 90 percent of what they were seeking—better than feared, considering the company’s first offer was zero.

“We can’t return to the house and we can’t repair it,” explains McClure. “There’s too much damage. It’s a 1953 bungalow; it doesn’t make sense to put more money into it. So we are trying to get a building permit from the City. The only way to get the thing built is to raise the elevation, and we need a permit from the Credit Valley Conservation Authority (CVCA) to do that.”

It’s important to note that when the house and neighbourhood were built, there was no issue with flooding and there were no flood plain regulations in place.

John Kinkade of CVCA says of McClure’s position: “Proposals for additions or building in the flood plain have to be reviewed in line with Ministry guidelines and within the existing footprint. Importing fill and raising the height of the structure would likely have an impact on neighbouring properties.”

McClure is looking for a building plan without a basement, to reduce the flood risk. Reducing the flood risk was also the emphatic direction taken by Mississauga Council in addressing the concerns of communities that suffered so greatly from last year’s storm.

Martin Powell, Mississauga’s Commissioner of Transportation and Public Works, now has an impressive list of flood mitigation initiatives underway. “There are a number of erosion projects being designed,” says Powell. “The dike protection design is nearly complete and will be going to tender in the new year. The Paisley Boulevard and King Street bridges are in design. Construction on the new Paisley bridge will begin in the fall. The King Street bridge will go to tender next summer for construction in 2016.

“And the big project that will hold back the most water is the pond on Matheson at Avebury, west of Hurontario. It’s in final design, and construction will start before winter.” Not only will this substantial pond prevent a great amount water from reaching the Cooksville Creek, it will also filter out sediment and pollutants.

The City is also looking for a site to use as an underground storage facility housing great plastic cells that will release storm water slowly over time. A number of these tanks will be developed under parks over the next 10 years.

After the historic flood some Cooksville residents are still hurting, but Mississauga has responded with a comprehensive strategy that should enable future residents to enjoy a good night’s sleep, even when it rains.