Kitchener Rotary e-Newsletter
February 6, 2023

Meeting Recording

A recording of Today’s Meeting can be found here

President's Comments

President Adrian welcomed everyone to this the 6th week of our 101st year.


Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener, Guest of the Club
Bell Ringer(s)
President Adrian declared that our President-Elect Bryn Jones is actually quite trainable and did attend the President-Elects Training Seminar on Saturday and as such made him a Bell Ringer for this week.  Paul Rostrup who participated in the PETS event as well as a panel member was also a Bell Ringer as was Louise Gardiner who organized a very successful district ski event at Devils Glen recently.

President's Wine Quiz

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Happy Jar

Louise Gardiner is happy that the Devils Glen ski trip went extremely well with terrific weather and just under 30 participants.  The event was organized in part due in relation to our 100th Anniversary activities.  Marty Levene, a former member of our club, now deceased, organized such a trip for our members on an annual basis for many years.  This event was organized in honour of his work and his son was delighted to be involved and happy to run the barbeque!  He hopes we can return to making this an annual event.
Louise is also quite happy and relieved that we now have Mayor Berry Vrbanovic inducted in our club as an honourary member, after many pandemic delays and rescheduling required.
Bryn Jones is happy that he was able to attend the PETS session on Saturday and felt it was very worthwhile proving him with lots of ideas and enthusiasm for next year.
Paul Rostrup was pleased to be able to contribute to the PETS program and to hear keynote speaker, Valarie Wafer, a past RI director and vice-president.

Club Announcements

Coldest Night of the Year
The Coldest Night of the Year is a winterrific family-friendly walk to raise money for local charities serving people experiencing hurt, hunger, and homelessness.  This is an opportunity for us to step outside the warmth & comfort of home and shine a light of welcome and compassion in our community.
For the 3rd year in a row, Kitchener Rotary will participate in this event.  Join our team to walk, and fundraise or donate!  It's cold out there, but there's no place like home.
There may be an opportunity to walk as a group, or you can gather your family and walk in your neighbourhood or on one of our beautiful local trails.  The official walk is on Saturday, February 25th at 5:00 p.m. for your choice of 2 or 5 km, but you can walk any day in February and any distance.
Don't like the cold?  Please support us by donating.  A receipt is provided for a donation of $20 or more.  Let's GOOOO, Rotary Road Scholars!  Click this link for our team, then click to JOIN or DONATE: CNOY2023
RYLA – Rotary Youth Leadership Academy
RYLA is a great leadership development opportunity for youth aged 18 to 26 who have graduated from high school.  It provides an effective training experience for selected young leaders and encourages leadership of youth by youth.  RYLA 2023 will be held from Sunday April 23 to Wednesday April 26 at the Ecology Retreat Centre in Orangeville.  Our club will sponsor one participant and we are looking for candidates.  For more information, including the application form go to rotary7080/ryla  or contact club Member Tom Mennill.
Arts Build Ontario Tour
Our evening program on February 17th will be a tour of Arts Build Ontario at 44 Gaukel Street led by Executive Director Alex Glass and is highly recommended by our PE Bryn Jones.  Following the tour we will gather for a social dinner at 271West - Registered Event
RAWEF Video Premier!
Our RAWEF story is now on film!  After much work on the part of many individuals the story of the beginnings and success of our Rotary African Women’s’ Education Fund is now available on video and will have its premier at our meeting next week at the Charcoal Steak House.  Be sure to attend!
Ukrainian Project
As part of our initiative to support local Ukrainian refugees we have been sourcing good quality used furniture, and donations are coming in, and thanks to member Shawky Fahel, we now have a storage location.  What is need is a small truck and hands to collect items and move to the storage area.  If available to assist please contact member Robert Shipley.
In partnership with the Grass Roots for Settlement of Refugees organization we are also supporting three families in the new Refugee Centre in Maryhill with more to be coming soon.  Stay tuned for more updates.
Our Online 50/50 Fundraiser
Our Online Catch the Ace was a great success and we have now launched its successor – our Online 50/50 Raffle.  This is a five-club program and all net proceeds will support KidsAbility.
The draw date for our first event is March 15 but there will be two early bird draws in February. For more information and to purchase tickets go to
Members are also asked to spread the word and inform family, friends and colleagues of this great way to support KidsAbility and maybe win some cash!
Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI)
RLI is a three part leadership development program for Rotarians.  It helps develop knowledge and leadership skills applicable in both Rotary and beyond.  All three parts are being offered on April 22 and Part one is free to new Rotarians (2 years or less).
Special Recognitions / Presentations
We were very pleased today to induct Mayor Berry Vrbanovic as an Honouray member of our club.
Mayor Berry Vrbanovic was born in Zagreb, Croatia, and moved to Canada as a young child. Coming from an immigrant family himself, Berry understands the challenges and issues facing the thousands of Canadians who have made Kitchener their new home.
Berry graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a BA in political science and a diploma in business administration.
He was first elected as Mayor of the City of Kitchener in 2014, after serving as a City of Kitchener Councillor from 1994-2014.  In 2018, Mayor Vrbanovic was re-elected, with an outpouring of community support, for a second term. He is committed to improving the quality of life for residents in the City of Kitchener and throughout the Region of Waterloo.
In addition to serving on all regular standing committees of Kitchener city council and Region of Waterloo council, Berry is also an appointee and active participant on many boards and committees.
Since 2016, Berry has served as the Treasurer of United Cities & Local Governments, an organization he has been involved with since 2006 in various roles and responsibilities.  Berry is also President Emeritus (2011-12) of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and a past member of FCM's Green Municipal Fund Council.

Program Highlights

Our program today was a presentation from club member Ross Newkirk, Director (Retired), School of Planning, Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, asking the question “Why do we keep giving people wet feet?” and dealing with the issue of Urban Flood threats and mitigation possibilities that need better communication.
Ross began his presentation with some examples of the extensive damage that can be caused by floods and continued with issues related to flooding.
Structural and Economic Flood Impacts
  • Governments face BIG costs:
    • Assume immediate and significant costs in securing and protecting citizens.
    • Assume the largest portion of costs to help citizens and businesses recover.
    • Face a very large expense to restore or rebuild flood damaged public infrastructure and facilities.
Public Infrastructure Flood Impacts
  • The big hit to the public purse is flood-damaged public infrastructure. The public infrastructure rebuild costs can easily be in the many 100 millions for just one major flood event.
Economic Flood Impacts
  • The local business sector may be significantly impacted and its viability reduced by flooding. Some businesses will struggle or never recover.
  • Local governments try to help restore normal business and employment activity within flooded urban areas as soon as possible after flooding.
  • But the Peterborough experience shows this takes years and is quite costly for local government.
  • In Canada, disaster insurance claim payments have more than doubled and government payments increased by more than an order of magnitude in just the last 10 years.
  • Governments have to divert funding from other priority programs to finance recovery.
  • Disasters have pushed the property and casualty insurance industry to unsustainable low margins.
  • Total insurance payments show floods are one of the most costly of natural disasters.
  • Floods have the largest per individual claim insurance cost.
    • NOTE: These are only the flood costs paid out by insurers.
    • Citizens and businesses cover very significant additional, but unreported, flood damage costs in addition to those covered by insurers and governments.
Structural and Economic Flood Impacts
  • Major floods harm the regional economy. Large floods can bring a major city to a halt for days causing millions of dollars damage to the local economy – the “lost” production, wages, sales and associated taxes are rarely recovered.
  • For example, Houston Texas had a major flood in 2001 that halted much of its main road transportation system and many firms had to suspend production.
  • A little later that year there was extensive flooding in an area northeast of Corpus Christie Texas
    • Closure for several days of approximately 165 roads several were interstate highways.
    • What was the dollar value impact on the regional economy of this event?
  • Doubtless major floods impose very significant costs and will lead to permanent loss of some local businesses and employment.
Flood Deaths, Automobiles, and Flash Floods
The increase in Flash floods is concerning; as they:
  • Occur within a few minutes or a few hours of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam.
  • Can roll boulders, tear out trees, compromise foundations, destroy buildings and bridges, and scour out new channels.
  • Rising water can reach substantial and dangerous heights.
  • Flash flood-producing rains can also trigger catastrophic mud slides.
  • “There are more flash flood related deaths than from any other natural disaster.
  • The majority of these are people who attempted to drive through floodwater and did not make it. … Floodwater can move as fast as 30 mph [50kph] and contains debris and other hazardous materials.
  • Over 50% of flood deaths in USA are auto related.
  • Creeks and storm drains can raise as quickly as 1 ft/min [30cm/min]” (Clark County Nevada, 2004)
Adapting to Floods: Physical Approaches
  • There is a long history of physical (structural) adaptations:
    • dams, levees, weirs, constructed floodways, channelizing, diversions, raising structures, diking etc. (Lots of these in the Grand River Watershed.)
    • these attempt to control flood level and flow. But they “stiffen” the watercourse actually making it less resilient to respond to extreme weather events.
  • Physical flood control facilities are able to provide protection only up to their design flood level and then can be overtopped or broached.
  • Very costly to build.
  • Costly to maintain and update.
  • Give a false sense of security.
Alternative to Physical: Non-Structural Approaches
  • Key non-structural tools: Watershed floodplain development policy and enforcement. Flood Insurance.
  • Biggest problem in Australia, USA and some Canadian Provinces –Floodplain mapping and development control policy is not widely or aggressively enough used. Planning and development control on a Watershed basis is rare.
  • Ontario is a leader in Watershed based management through its Conservation Authorities (established by the Les Frost Government in the 1940’s.) Unfortunately their authorities are being diminished by the More Homes Built Faster Act.
  • My concern is: will People be allowed to live and have businesses in flood prone lands?
Legacy of the Structural Approach
  • Too much reliance has been placed on physical structure flood protection. More policy emphasis is needed on managing the potential impacts of increased development in watersheds and especially in greenbelts.
  • The Australian and Quebec governments rely a lot on dike systems. They face a long future of structural upgrading costs - even though many of the structures will lose effectiveness (e.g., silting up of reservoirs) and will eventually fail (eg., broaching old levees and dikes) 
  • “Structural methods have certainly reduced the risk of some flooding but have not eliminated the risk. For example, in the Grand River Basin all of the dike systems have at times failed except for the dikes constructed or repaired in the past 25 years”
  • Even properly functioning physical structures may be limited in their ability to assist in a particular flood emergency: “… at the time of the 1974 Grand River flood all reservoirs were full and unable to significantly reduce downstream flooding.”
Changing Trends and Floods
  • Extreme Weather – Climate change is presenting us with very large variations in weather. Extreme events are more significant and more frequent – there are more excessive rainfall events, more droughts.
  • Watershed Urbanization (Increased Population & Land Use Density) makes the problem worse – Watersheds are becoming less resilient. Floods are higher and storm water flows faster
North America Extreme Weather Experience
  • Consider the recent series of storms that lashed the BC and Atlantic coasts.
  • Recently exceptionally a series of successive heavy “atmospheric river” rainstorms lashed California causing damaging floods, deaths, and mudslides.
  • Consider 2021’s Abbotsford floods
  • Extreme weather events are becoming wide-spread. This extreme weather increase has been underway for quite a while.
“Texas is having more flood emergencies each year. Our reservoirs are filling faster. This fall all major south Texas watersheds were in flood [stage]at the same time; this has never happened before.”
Canada Extreme Weather Experience:
  • July 14th and 15th, 2004, the City of Peterborough was inundated by a massive stalled summer thunderstorm producing an overland flood that resulted from that 200 year flood level rainfall event.
  • Over 200mm (9 inches) of rain fell in under 4 hours in this normally dry time of the year -extensively flooding the central business district and many residential areas.
Changes in Land Use: Watershed Urbanization
  • Concern about the potential flood effects that can result from urbanizing a watershed and areas of the greenbelt.
    • The impervious area within a development is driven by the development’s increased lot yield, road widths, open space allocations, landform and private landscape treatments.
    •  There is a distinct trend to smaller urban lots that increase residential density .
    • The increased density results in part from government policy requirements toward “densification.” 
    • This increases the impervious fraction within most new development areas and hence increases flood runoff.
Our Failure to Change Perceptions about Floods
Common misconceptions:
  • A 1:100 year flood happened 20 years ago, so we won’t get another one like that for another 80 years. (You could actually experience a 100 year level flood the next year!)
  • Only buildings that fall within the 100 year flood line are at risk of flooding and buildings which fall outside the line will never be flooded. 
  • Because it has not happened before it cannot happen.
  • Construction of a levee (dike) puts us in a flood-free zone.
Media reports of flood events are not helpful:
  • Reporting Emphasis: the “experience” - deaths, water levels, people displaced, damage to property and possessions, inconvenience, any apparent government employee or facilities failure of coping with the emergency, how this flood compares to others, pride in how well the community is coping, etc.
  • Major floods are always described as unusual, unprecedented, storm of the century, etc. (Makes it sound it’s so rare and unlikely to repeat.)
  • Much media coverage focuses on emergency response and unusual conditions brought about the flood.
  • Once the emergency is “over” and the first stage of cleanup is finishing, the flood becomes less newsworthy to the media and reporting switches to other “more interesting” topics.
  • Rare follow up articles about root causes of flooding, how floods might be prevented, and what flood mitigation steps need to be addressed in the community.
  • Media complacency with long term flood mitigation planning helps build public perception that there is little abiding risk from floods.
Communicating Flood Risk and Adaptation
  • We need a Flood Informed Public: A communications strategy is needed to provide useful information about flood risks and obtaining protection (through insurance and site improvements.)
  • Remember: It is essential to keep people out of flood waters.
  • Do citizens know their risks?
Communicating With the Public
  • Conservation Authorities and Regional Planners should:
    • Provide clear information that 100 year precipitation events used for design levels do not provide 100 years of safety.
    • Clearly publicize the risk of living and working in the floodplain. Point out that vigilance is required when storms are active.
    • Provide information tools that citizens can use to understand their flood risk.
NOTE: The GRCA has done exactly that for us to use!
Do you need flood insurance?
  • Most household insurance policies only cover water damage from internal problems (eg. broken pipe, cracked toilet, failed water heater..)
  • Sewer backup and overland water flow are not usually covered unless specified in the policy.
  • (I’ve added a sewer backup/overland water flow rider to my policy!)
Are You in a Flood Zone?
The GRCA provides on-line mapping at:
  • It all comes down to local planning being required to be consistent with the overall best interests of all residents of a watershed.
  • For watershed and flood mitigation planning to be effective, politicians must ensure their governments invest in establishing and maintaining the necessary planning and regulatory authority in appropriate regional watershed institutional frameworks.
  • Professional planners and engineers, and emergency managers must help politicians reach this important goal.
  • If each of us learns about our risks, takes appropriate action, and ensures Government does not weaken policies, we may avoid having to issue every citizen these …

Closing Remarks & Reminders

President Adrian reminded members that the next meeting will be Monday, February 13 - Noon in-person at Charcoal Steakhouse. We will be seing the Premier showing of our RAWEF Story on film, Black History Month and Who Am I's
Upcoming Speakers
Feb 06, 2023 12:00 PM
Feb 13, 2023 12:00 PM
Committee Updates by President Adrian
Feb 20, 2023
Committee Meetings to be Scheduled by Committee Chairs
Feb 27, 2023 6:00 PM
Arts Build Ontario Tour - 44 Gaukel Street followed by dinner at 271West
View entire list
Birthdays & Membership Anniversaries
Member Birthdays
Neil Swayze
February 1
Lew Ford
February 5
JB Moore
February 8
Karim Sallaudin Karim
February 9
Tasreen Charania
February 9
Sharon MacDonald
February 12
Ailton DIas Santana
February 14
Cam Yule
February 19
Josh Bedard
February 23
Robert Shipley
February 26
Join Date
Lew Ford
February 1, 1991
32 years
Laura Mae Lindo
February 10, 2020
3 years
Deborah Barton
February 28, 2022
1 year
Robert Shipley
February 28, 2022
1 year