26 Apr, 2016

The costs of wild weather: how cities should pay for stormwater infrastructure

New Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG) Perspectives Paper suggests cities should charge user fees to pay for stormwater infrastructure upgrades. 

Toronto, April 2016 – In recent years, Toronto, like many cities around the globe, has become all too familiar with the damage that heavy storms can cause: power outages, transportation network disruptions, and flooding to countless private and public properties.

Much of this damage could be lessened with up-to-date stormwater infrastructure. Yet such infrastructure is not a glamorous investment. We need look no further than the July 2013 floods, Ontario’s most costly natural disaster, to see the consequences of underinvestment. Hidden in the ground, underground drainage system upgrades often take a backseat to more visible infrastructure projects like highways and recreation centres.

In the new IMFG Perspectives Paper, “Paying for Stormwater Management: What Are the Options?” Daniella Dávila Aquije discusses different ways to pay for stormwater infrastructure. Looking at the City of Mississauga’s new Stormwater Management Financing Program as a case study, she finds that user charges are the best, since they provide a combination of the right incentives and stable and predictable revenues.


Daniella Dávila Aquije was the recipient of IMFG’s 2013-2014 Blanche and Sandy Van Ginkel Graduate Fellowship in Municipal Finance and Governance. She holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Toronto and a Master’s in Policy Evaluation from the University of Oxford. She currently works as a policy consultant for Oxford Policy Management in England.