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Mandatory Downspout Disconnection Program

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  • August 18, 2016: The third and final wave of the Mandatory Downspout Disconnection envelopes (which include attached brochure and notice letter) is scheduled to be delivered to 75,000 properties in (or around) the Phase 3 area the week of August 29 - Sept 2. To request an exemption form or if you did not receive this package and want it mailed to you, please send an e-mail to the Downspout Disconnection Program with your name and mailing address.

Toronto City Council has approved a bylaw making downspout disconnection mandatory, City-wide There are three phases to the program designated by area. The bylaw is applicable to all buildings, including industrial, institutional and commercial locations as well.

Bylaw information
Toronto City Council has approved a bylaw making downspout disconnection mandatory, City-wide. There are three phases to the program designated by area. The bylaw is applicable to all buildings, including industrial, institutional and commercial locations as well.

Three phases:

  • Phase 1: required property owners living in the central area of the city served by combined sewers (stormwater and sanitary sewage carried in a single pipe) to disconnect their home's downspout from the City's sewer system, if feasible*, by November 20, 2011.
  • Phase 2: required property owners living in the basement flooding study areas to disconnect, if feasible*, by December 3, 2013.
  • Phase 3: requires property owners living in the remaining areas of the city to disconnect, if feasible*, by December 3, 2016.

On-line Map of Phases #1, #2, #3
Property owners can check out when they are required to disconnect by consulting the map on the Toronto Water website. The map requires a property owner to enter their address. To identify the phases, click on the Legend in the sidebar.

Benefits of disconnecting
Disconnecting a home's or building's downspouts from the City's sewer system is an important step in helping to reduce the risk of both basement flooding and releasing polluted rainwater into our local waterways.

*Exemptions/Application Form
In some cases, it may not be technically feasible to disconnect all downspouts. There will be exemptions for properties where the City determines that disconnection is not feasible or would create a hazardous situation. Property owners must apply to the City to receive an exemption (you must apply for an exemption under this program, even if you were advised you did not need to disconnect under Voluntary Downspout Disconnection Program). Residents requesting to reconnect their downspout will need to apply for exemption. Contact Toronto Water who can provide more information about reconnecting your downspout.

Exemption Applications are available on the City website.

Property owners can also request an application by e-mailing the Program mailbox

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens after I submit my application?
Once an application is received, a letter is issued back to the homeowners to acknowledge its receipt. Toronto Water staff will review exemption application to ensure they are complete. If there is any missing information, staff will notify the property owner. Each application will be reviewed to determine which, if any, downspouts are eligible for exemption from the by-law. A site visit may be required as part of the review. Staff will contact the property owner directly to make any necessary arrangements. Once an application has been reviewed, the property owner will receive a letter notifying them of the decision.

I have applied for an exemption but have not yet received a decision letter. Will I face a fine?
No. If you have submitted your exemption application to the City, you will not face a fine.

My property was assessed under the Voluntary Downspout Disconnection Program and my downspout(s) could not be disconnected, do I need to apply for an exemption?
Yes, property owners assessed under the Voluntary Downspout Disconnection Program and deemed non-feasible for disconnection must apply. If the conditions on the property have not changed, owners should only complete page 1 and 5 of the exemption application.

Do I need to disconnect my downspout if it flows into a french drain (i.e. dual system) or dry well?
If your downspout drains into a soakaway pit, french drain or dry well, it is likely to have been disconnected from the City's sewer system. These devices direct water from the downspout underground, where the water can easily infiltrate into the ground

Financial assistance
Financial assistance is available to reimburse the costs of labour and/or materials for performing downspout disconnection work, up to a maximum of $500, for low-income seniors or low-income persons with a disability.

Who is eligible?
To qualify, you must:

  • Own a residential property within the City of Toronto
  • Have a combined household income of $50,000 or less
  • Be 65 years of age or older
  • OR be 60-64 years of age and receiving Guaranteed Income Supplement under Old Age Security Act; if widowed, be receiving the Spouse's Allowance under Old Age Security
  • OR be 50 years of age or older and be receive either a pension or a pension annuity resulting from a pension plan under the Income Tax Act (Canada)
  • OR be a person with a disability and be receiving disability benefits

Financial Assistance Program:
Application is on the City website

Do-it-yourself disconnection
Property owners can perform a simple disconnection themselves. For instructions please visit the City website.The alternative is to hire a City-licensed and experienced eavestrough or roofing contractor to do the work. The Toronto Water website provides guidelines for hiring a contractor.

The City is asking all property owners to make every effort to disconnect as many downspouts as is feasible. Enforcement will occur only after the deadline for each phase. For those properties that are non-compliant after this date, the City can issue a warning notice followed by enforcement procedures which could include fines. The City is encouraging all property owners to make an effort to disconnect as many downspouts on their property as is feasible.

  • Property owners who have not yet disconnected will continue to receive a notice from the City that alerts them to the bylaw requirements, including the opportunity to submit an application for exemption, if disconnection is not technically feasible or would create a hazardous condition.
  • It should be noted that property owners who have not disconnected may have submitted an application to the City for an exemption from the bylaw. Toronto Water is reviewing all applications. Applicants will be notified in writing once their application has been reviewed and a decision is made on the request for an exemption. Until such time, applicants do not need to disconnect.
  • The City will not pursue penalties against any property owner who makes a good-faith effort to disconnect.
  • If your neighbour's downspout has been disconnected and the water that is discharged is causing damage to your property, property owners are advised to speak to their neighbour as a first step to resolve the issue. If the issue cannot be resolved, contact 311 to submit a service request for investigation by Municipal Licensing and Standards Division.

2016 Field Assessment on Disconnection Rates
Toronto Water is conducting a field assessment this summer to determine the level of downspout disconnection across the city. As part of this assessment, two trained university students will visit a targeted sample of residential properties across the city to a) assess whether downspouts visible from the curbside have been disconnected, and b) where possible, ask permission of property owners to survey the level of disconnection on the entire property. Only where permission has been obtained from a homeowner will the researchers enter onto private property.

In 2013, Toronto Water staff undertook a similar type of field assessment to gauge and assess compliance with the Mandatory Downspout Disconnection Bylaw after Phase 1 and ahead of its implementation in Phases 2 and 3. As before, the researchers will not be enforcing the bylaw, but will simply assess whether or not downspouts are disconnected. The researchers will also be able to provide information about the City's Mandatory Downspout Disconnection Program to property owners.

Mandatory Downspout Disconnection - Potentially misleading information from downspout contractors
Toronto Water has received reports that at least one independent contractor may be distributing potentially misleading communications (such as flyers and notices placed on door knobs) that appear to be designed to look like they are communications from the City about its mandatory downspout disconnection program. The City is not sending out any mass communications, such as flyers or door knockers entitled "Notice" or "Final Notice", to residents about mandatory downspout disconnection. The City is investigating these incidents and will take appropriate action.

The City of Toronto does not endorse, recommend, or partner with any private company to either carry out downspout disconnections or enforce mandatory downspout disconnection. Only City bylaw officers are authorized to identify a property for non-compliance with a City bylaw. Residents are advised to exercise caution when solicited for any service or when sharing personal information to people unknown to them.

If you have concerns about any person at your door or suspect fraud, you can report it to Toronto Water by sending an email. Residents who suspect fraud are also encouraged to contact the Non-Emergency line for Toronto Police.
For more information, visit Ontario's, Ministry of Consumer Services website.

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