This case study addresses the climatic risks and vulnerabilities related to stormwater management in the City of Barrie due to increasing frequency and intensity of heavy rain and more frequent mid-winter snow melt events. These impacts are expected to continue to intensify with climate change. As mentioned in the ‘Short Description’ section above, the City developed its Disconnect to Protect rebate program as a response to these impacts, which covers up to $70 for the resident to disconnect their downspouts, and 75% of the costs associated with residents disconnecting their foundation drain, redirecting an existing sump pump discharge, or capping an existing sanitary drain and installing a new sump pump with surface discharge. However, since the rebate program was launched, it has received no uptake. In order to improve the uptake of the incentives program, the City hosted a workshop with real estate agents, home inspectors, and plumbers in order to build partnerships for the communication and implementation of the program. The workshop also provided an opportunity for the City to glean insights into homeowners from the perspective of these individuals and organizations. The City then collected feedback from the workshop and prepared a report of recommendations on how the City can improve communications and uptake. In addition to the workshop, a communications plan was made for the Disconnect to Protect program, including media releases and updates to the City of Barrie website. New, less technical brochures were also created for the Inflow & Infiltration information page on the City’s website.
In response to ongoing stormwater management challenges and concerns, the City of Barrie completed its Climate Change Adaptation Strategy in March 2017, which provided the recommendation to increase the uptake of the City’s Disconnect to Protect Program. Stormwater is a large concern for the City, especially as extreme rainfall events continue to become more frequent and intense, and mid-winter snowmelts become more common place. The impacts of this increased rainfall are compounded by the fact many residents have downspouts or sump pump/foundation drains that are illegally connected to the sanitary system, which discharge directly into the Wastewater Treatment Facility and can cause sewage backup during extreme rainfalls. This case study provides an overview of the City’s Disconnect to Protect rebate program, which is an ongoing program led by the Source Water Protection group at the City that provides rebates to qualifying Barrie residents for disconnecting illegal downspout, sump pump, and foundation connections to the sanitary sewer system.