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Kingscourt Groundbreakers kicks off - Project seeks to address basement flooding problems using green infrastructure

July 19, 2016 -

Red Squirrel Conservation Services and the Kingscourt Community Association today officially launched a new local initiative called Kingscourt Groundbreakers, an innovative, community-led program that will encourage and assist local residents to implement green infrastructure to reduce stormwater flooding. 

At the launch event, local MPP Sophie Kiwala and John Blake, a volunteer with the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), heard more about this initiative, which is part of a larger program taking place in Kingston, Thunder Bay and Peterborough thanks to a $600,000 grant from OTF in late 2015 to Green Communities Canada (GCC). GCC is is working collaboratively with Red Squirrel and the Association, as well as other groups in the three communities to help prevent stormwater runoff and pollution.

"The Government of Ontario and OTF are pleased to support innovative projects like Kingscourt Groundbreakers," says Sophie Kiwala, the MPP for Kingston and the Islands. "We are always eager to tackle environmental problems in creative new ways, and that's exactly what Groundbreakers does. This project will help to demonstrate that plants and landscaping add a positive esthetic value to neighbourhoods, improve air quality and potentially increase property values. They can also help cities manage stormwater in a less costly way."

The soil in much of Kingscourt is shallow, and the bedrock is often only a few centimetres underground. Because excess water cannot always soak into the soil, many Kingscourt residents have experienced basement floods after heavy rainfalls or snow melts that caused water to infiltrate their home's foundation. Some residents have spent thousands of dollars on basement cleanup, repair and sump-pump installations.

Over the next two years, the Kingscourt Groundbreakers team will work together with Kingscourt residents to identify flood-prone areas in Kingscourt and address drainage problems using rain gardens, rain barrels and by making other small-scale changes to their properties. These measures – which will be entirely funded by Red Squirrel, via a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation -- will not only mitigate or prevent further flooding, but also beautify six individual properties and the overall neighborhood.

"Green infrastructure is already standard practice in cities like Philadelphia, which has used rain gardens, bioswales and other techniques to divert hundreds of thousands of litres of polluted runoff from its rivers," says Alec Ross, Red Squirrel's executive director. "We'd like to bring that kind of thinking to Kingston, and Kingscourt Groundbreakers is the first step in the process."

This fall, Kingscourt Groundbreakers will also host events to inform residents and the broader community about how green infrastructure can benefit them, their neighborhood, and the city as a whole.

The City of Kingston is also a partner in Kingscourt Groundbreakers. In 2017, the City will install two yet-to-be determined green infrastructure measures (such as bioswales) on public rights-of-way in Kingscourt. These will slow down the stormwater draining into sewers during periods of heavy rainfall and filter out oil, grease and other contaminants that the rainwater picks up as it flows along the road. As a result, the water that flows from the sewer into Lake Ontario – Kingston's drinking-water source – will be a bit cleaner.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada's largest granting foundations. With a budget of over $136 million, OTF awards grants to some 1,000 projects every year to build healthy and vibrant Ontario communities.

For more information about Kingscourt Groundbreakers, please contact Alec Ross, Executive Director, Red Squirrel Conservation Services, at 613-547-8122 or executivedirector@redsquirrelconservation.ca