To help achieve a sustainable environment, the City of Thunder Bay has developed a 20-year Stormwater Management Plan. The plan focuses on the stormwater system, and how changes in the environment, land use, and climate affect it. The Plan examines opportunities to assess and improve current infrastructure.

Explore the information below to learn more about what stormwater is and why it is an issue, read our Stormwater Management Plan, learn about the Stormwater Financing Study, and find out what you can do at home.    

About stormwater: what is it and why is it an issue?

What is stormwater?

Rain and melted snow flow over land into storm drains, streams, rivers, and lakes.

In natural landscapes, stormwater is soaked up like a sponge, and goes on to nourishes plants and slowly replenish streams, lakes, wetlands, and aquifers.

In more urban areas, impervious or hard surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, and rooftops prevent stormwater from naturally soaking into the ground. Instead, the water runs quickly into storm drains and sewer systems, and then to our lakes and rivers.

Hard urban surface areas thus create more stormwater runoff, which carries more pollutants such as oil, grit, and garbage into our lakes and rivers.

Why is stormwater an issue?

Stormwater that does not soak into the ground flows into rivers, ponds and lakes. The runoff can contain chemicals, sediment, and trash.

It is important to monitor stormwater runoff - first, to track how much and how often which can result in flooding, and second, to track the amount of contaminants the water carries.

The Stormwater Management Plan is intended to help lower the danger of runoff, and protect our roads and structures, with a fully functional storm sewer system.

Our Stormwater Management Plan

stormwater-management-plan-coverThe Stormwater Management Plan spans a 20-year period. It protects the quality and health of water resources in Thunder Bay.

The Plan was created with the guidance of Emmons & Olivier Resources, Inc., as well as input from community groups and residents.

The City of Thunder Bay Strategic Plan (2011-2014) supported the development of the plan.

Thunder Bay City Council approved the Stormwater Management Plan in principle on June 13, 2016.

View (PDF) the components of the Stormwater Management Plan:

The Stormwater Financing Strategy


In June 2016, Council approved in principle the Stormwater Management Plan for Sustainable Surface Water Management (the “Stormwater Plan”), and directed Administration to report back on a financing strategy to support the successful implementation of the Stormwater Plan.  

In the fall of 2017, the City retained the services of AECOM to assist and complete a Stormwater Financing Strategy, including reviewing how the City currently collects revenue for stormwater, other options to collect revenue for stormwater, sustainable stormwater service and funding levels - and developing steps for implementing the preferred strategy.

There are several options to provide funding for a stormwater management program. These options include:

  • Status quo
  • Increased property tax rates
  • Changes to the current Sewage & Drainage property tax levy
  • A new stormwater management property tax levy
  • Changes to the current Development Charges program (partial program funding for new development and infill/re-development only)
  • A new Development Impact Fee program (partial program funding for new development and infill/redevelopment only)
  • A new Stormwater Management User Fee program

One option explored by the City, which is becoming more common in Ontario, and throughout North America, is financing stormwater management through a user fee. A stormwater user fee, also referred to as a utility, would charge homeowners and landowners based on the amount of stormwater their property contributes.

stormwater-financing-strategy-coverCurrent status:

The Stormwater Financing Strategy report, including findings from of the public consultation, is available here: Thunder Bay Stormwater Financing Strategy (PDF).

On May 21, 2019, Administration recommended to City Council that no changes should be made to stormwater financing at this time. Read the May 21 Memorandum to Council on the Stormwater Financing Study.

Administration reached this recommendation based on the study findings, a cost-benefit analysis, and the introduction of changes in asset management legislation, which requires financial plans for all infrastructure, not just stormwater.

The information from the Stormwater Financing Strategy will be useful in years to come to inform asset management planning.

Public engagement activities:

A public information forum was held on Jan. 23, 2018, to give residents an opportunity to learn about the study and funding options under consideration and give their feedback. Ward meeting presentations were also held in February 2018. View the forum and ward meeting presentation materials:


About AECOM:

AECOM is a firm that connects knowledge and experience across a global network of experts to help their clients solve complex challenges. AECOM offers premier professional and technical services to help plan, design, build, finance, and operate infrastructure assets for public and private sector clients.

AECOM Contact: Pippy Warburton, P. Eng. AECOM, 519-650-8629,

Community involvement - what you can do at home

Good planning and better decisions involve input from many sources, including the residents of our community. Thank you to all those who have been involved and provided input. Your involvement will help us meet the needs of the current and future stormwater demand.

Here are other ways you can get involved and do your part at home:

  • Plant a rain garden
  • Install a rain barrel or two
  • Dispose of hazardous waste at the City's Household Hazardous Waste Depot
  • Do not wash automotive fluids into the storm sewer
  • Pick up after your pets
  • Clean up litter
  • Avoid the use of chemical fertilizers

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