With the approach of the spring flood season, the Plante administration is not doing enough to prevent flooding on the territory of Montreal, denounces the opposition to the city hall, which asks in particular, for the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro, three pumping stations and the construction of a permanent dike.
According to the Ensemble Montréal party, the City of Montréal must move from a logic of reaction to a logic of prevention.
“Just because there are no floods this year doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. The administration has two choices: either it invests to protect the residents, or it pays to repair the damage. The calculation is simple. It is much less expensive to obtain equipment than to assume the material and human cost of hundreds of flooded residences,” said Dimitrios (Jim) Beis, mayor of the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro, on Tuesday at a press conference. , one of the most affected by the flooding in 2017 and 2019.
Mr. Beis explains that his borough has invested half a million in prevention measures since 2018, whether it is the rental of pumps or the purchase of materials to erect barriers. Proof that the equipment has proven effective, he points out that only 50 residences were flooded in 2019, compared to 900 in 2017, despite equally significant floods.
But these expenses weigh heavily on the Borough’s budget. This is why he is asking that the City of Montreal establish a flood prevention fund to support boroughs whose territory includes flood-prone areas.
“The reality is that it is too late when the City of Montreal declares a state of emergency… The damage is done! If the issue of the annual budget is resolved, we will be able to manage the floods with the expertise that we have developed. Spring floods are not just the problem of Pierrefonds-Roxboro, they are the problem of all the neighboring boroughs,” maintains Mr. Beis.
Three pumping stations and a dyke
The borough mayor also recalls that the City of Montreal received, in August 2019, 50 million from the federal government, through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund. This sum was to make it possible to buy green spaces in the west of the island, to preserve useful wetlands against spring floods, but also to install three pumping stations and valves in the sector, which does not has never been done.
“Another example: to protect the sector flooded in 2019, at the western end of Pierrefonds, we provided plans to the City of Montreal for the construction of natural dikes of about a kilometer and a half. The city refused twice,” laments Mr. Beis.
For his press conference, the borough mayor was accompanied by two citizens whose residences were affected by the 2017 floods.
“In four minutes, there was six feet of water in the six rooms on the first level of our house, we lost the battle”, relates René Leblanc, who described this episode as “a nightmare, a hell”. “Every year as spring approaches, owners relive the possibility of this nightmare, with all the stress and uncertainty,” he laments.
For the time being, since the snow cover is not too heavy, Hydro-Québec does not expect a spring very conducive to flooding. “But we are not immune to circumstances that can change,” says Francis Labbé, spokesperson for the state-owned company, who warns that the speed of snowmelt and the amount of rain in the coming weeks could be a game changer.