With spring just around the corner, Ensemble Montréal is urging the City of Montreal to allocate a recurring seasonal flood prevention fund. Despite repeated requests from the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro, the city center continues to fail to identify any funds or timetable in its budget and 2022-2031 ten-year capital works program (PDI), leaving residents to their own.
“Just because there is no flooding this year doesn’t mean it will never happen again. The administration has two choices: either she invests to protect residents or pays to repair the damage. The math is simple and it’s much cheaper to buy equipment than to pay the material and human cost of hundreds of flooded homes,” said Dimitrios (Jim) Beis, Mayor of Pierrefonds-Roxboro.
From renting pumps to purchasing 15,000 burlap bags to materials to erect barriers, half a million dollars has been invested by the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro in spring flood prevention since 2018. The equipment has proven effective in limiting the number of flooded residences. While their number amounted to more than 900 in 2017, only 50 citizens were affected in 2019 despite a higher volume of water.
However, the mayor reminds that even if the equipment has helped to limit the damage in recent years, the battle is not won in the face of the increasing impact of climate changes. A flooded residence will always be one too many. For Ensemble Montréal, the City of Montreal must move from a logic of reaction to a logic of prevention, notably by signing framework agreements with suppliers of flood prevention materials and by proposing an action plan in collaboration with the Quebec government to perpetuate the measures.
“From Saint-Lazare to Toronto, we received an invaluable help from citizens to not only fill sandbags, but also to ensure the safety of residents whose lives were falling apart. It is essential that the City of Montreal and the borough work together to prevent flooding and limit the real destruction and heartbreak it causes,” said David Pouliot, who has been part of the community flood watch for the past five years in Pierrefonds-Roxboro.
“Every year, with the arrival of spring, flood victims are faced with the possibility of reliving a nightmare. Having witnessed countless heartbreaking tragedies, I have learned that the key to reducing risk is prevention. You can’t repeat the same mistakes and expect a different outcome. Even less when you have proven solutions at hand, but you refuse to implement them,” added Rene Leblanc, lead volunteer during the 2017 and 2019 floods in Pierrefonds-Roxboro.
In sum, Ensemble Montréal calls on the administration to stop hiding behind the Civil Protection Act to justify the lack of investment for boroughs located in flood plain zones.
“The reality is that it is too late when the City of Montreal declares a state of emergency… The damage is done! If the annual budget issue is resolved, we will be able to manage floods with the expertise we have developed. Spring flooding is not only Pierrefonds-Roxboro’s problem, it is the problem of all the boroughs along the river,” concluded Mr. Beis.