City of Toronto’s New Foundation Drainage Policy
On November 1, 2021, the City of Toronto (the “City”) released its Foundation Drainage Policy (the “Policy”) and introduced Foundation Drainage Guidelines (the “Guidelines”) to support the Policy’s implementation. The Policy will apply to all new proposed buildings or structures that require applications under the Planning Act, except for Committee of Adjustment applications, starting on January 1, 2022. Existing applications will be exempt from these changes. The City will take the 2022 calendar year to consider case-specific exemptions.
Foundation drainage is the collection of water around the foundation of a building or structure from infiltrated stormwater and groundwater. Previously, foundation drains could be connected to municipal systems, however, the volume of foundation drainage discharged into the City sewers became a problem, resulting in the City amending its Sewers By-Law, Chapter 681 of the Municipal Code. This amendment prohibits new residential properties from discharging storm or sewage into the City’s existing sanitary or storm sewer systems, and instead promotes on-site water drainage with some exemptions available upon application to the General Manager of Toronto Water (the “GM”).
The City has now developed the Policy to further preserve sewer capacity in the City’s sewer systems and to sustain future development growth through managing foundation drainage on-site rather than discharging it to the City’s sewers.
The Policy starts by expressly prohibiting:
- The Long-Term Discharge of Foundation Drainage to the City’s sanitary sewer system (e. for more than 12 months); and
- Discharge of Foundation Drainage from the interception and extraction of Groundwater from confined aquifers to the City’s sanitary sewer system.
It then states that Long-Term Discharge of Foundation Drainage that contains any Groundwater is also not permitted to the City’s storm or combined sewer system unless the Foundation Drainage is deemed to contain only Infiltrated Stormwater (i.e. stormwater that enters the unsaturated zone), and all the following conditions have been met to the satisfaction of the GM. The conditions include satisfying a Qualified Professional that:
- The development site is not considered a Brownfield Property;
- The lowest elevation of any proposed structure will be higher than the Maximum Anticipated Groundwater Level in accordance with the Guidelines; and
- All requirements for a Storm Connection Exemption Application have been satisfied.
The Policy retains the GM’s exemption authority to allow the foundation drain to be connected to a municipal sewer at the written request of the owner, where a Qualified Professional has demonstrated that On-Site Management of Foundation Drainage is not technologically feasible and Long-Term Discharge of Foundation Drainage is required to avoid hazardous impacts. In receiving this GM exemption, the Long-Term Discharge of Foundation Drainage may be permitted so long as the Policy’s conditions are met.
The Policy also allows for a temporary connection of on-site Foundation Drainage infrastructure to facilitate future emergency repair under certain conditions.
Last, the City provides a “Summary Form” here, which, along with a Foundation Drainage Technical Brief, will be required as a submission requirement for development applications.
The Davies Howe LLP team would be happy to answer any questions you may have as to this new development requirement.