Track 1 Day 1: Ward


Urban Flooding and Stormwater Initiatives in Thunder Bay, Ontario

Wednesday March 25, 2020
1:30 to 2:00 p.m. (Hall A)


Aaron Ward, City of Thunder Bay


Like many cities in Ontario and throughout North America, Thunder Bay has a history of flooding. The frequency of this flooding seems to be increasing, given past unchecked urbanization, compounded with climate change and the higher frequency of more intense storms.

Thunder Bay is quite isolated from southern Ontario, located almost 1,400 km from Toronto. But it is still in the same province, and subject to the same Ministry requirements.

The presentation provides:

  • A brief overview of Thunder Bay’s historical flooding, as well as its most recent events in May 2012 when a state of emergency was declared, and other large, but more localized events in 2008 and 2016
  • An overview of the City’s stormwater infrastructure and financing
  • A high-level overview of what the City is doing to address stormwater management (i.e. large capital projects, enhanced 2D modelling, increased operation and maintenance (O&M), inspection databases, including a private oil and grit separators (OGS) inspection program, education and outreach, rebate programs, etc.)
  • An overview of Thunder Bay’s green infrastructure (GI) installations in the north; we have built 17 GI facilities since 2016
  • An overview of lessons learned, including how the City has leveraged funding for GI from many sources


Learning Objectives

1. Learn that there are many ways to address stormwater management (flooding, water quality, etc.), and there is no silver bullet. A multi-pronged approach, including both grey-and green infrastructure, as well as municipal and private participation, is required.

2. Learn how Thunder Bay has constructed 17 facilities since 2016 using more of a “pocket” approach to GI rather than developing long, linear facilities which generate different inspection and O&M needs.

3. Hear about lessons learned from green infrastructure design, construction, and operations and maintenance, and how the City of Thunder Bay is trying to learn from each year’s work to improve.



Aaron Ward

Aaron Ward

Aaron Ward is a Project Engineer for the City of Thunder Bay. He currently oversees development projects in the City and is heavily involved in the implementation of the City’s 2016 Stormwater Management Plan.

Aaron has 15 years of experience as a professional engineer. After graduating from McMaster University, he worked in the private sector in southern Ontario, primarily on land development and stormwater projects. He joined the City of Thunder Bay in 2012.