Spring Floods: Ensemble Montréal Returns to the Charge on the Support Needed From the City

The elected officials of Ensemble Montréal representing the boroughs of Pierrefonds-Roxboro, L’Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève and Ahuntsic-Cartierville held a press conference Monday morning concerning the spring flooding. Although the preventive measures deployed by their respective boroughs helped to reduce the damage, Borough Mayors Dimitrios Jim Beis and Stéphane Côté, as well as City Councillor Effie Giannou, denounced the repeated lack of support from the city. They are once again calling for funds to be dedicated to flood prevention in the operating budget and 2024-2033 ten-year capital works program (PDI) and for these funds to have a timeline associated with them. 

In Pierrefonds-Roxboro, it is more than half a million dollars that have been invested by the borough since 2018 to prevent spring flooding. In L’Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève, about twenty pumps had to be rented in the spring of 2023 for a bill totaling $700,000. Exhausted by having to pay for and implement temporary measures on their own, the elected officials have made several requests to the city for permanent flood prevention and mitigation measures (such as dykes and the purchase of lots located in flood-prone areas). These requests have either been refused or remain unanswered. 

Although an investment of 16 million dollars over eight years from the City of Montreal is on the table for the rehabilitation and development of the dykes, the elected officials of Ensemble Montréal point out that this is smoke and mirrors, considering that the raising of a single dyke costs about five million dollars. Furthermore, the money will not arrive before 2025.

Finally, a more flexible approach to the city’s Special Intervention Plan is also called for so that it can be adapted to the realities of each borough. For instance, in L’Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève, the sandbag quota was reached in the middle of the crisis and we had to insist that additional resources be made available. Rapid deployment teams should also be formed within the Centre de coordination des mesures d’urgence (CCMU) of the City of Montreal. This would address both the delays in receiving assistance experienced by the boroughs along the river and the lack of information that residents, particularly in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, have encountered.

Quotes 

“Despite the invaluable support from citizens, volunteers and blue and white collar employees, the spring flood management once again left me with the bitter taste due to the lack of leadership from the administration. This year, once again, we had to dip into our resources due to the lack of support from the city for permanent measures.”

– Dimitrios Jim Beis, Mayor of Borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro 

“We rent, we move, we build… we go from temporary measure to temporary measure. The city is not there to help us row. Our residents feel abandoned. The response time to urgent land requests is inadequate and even dangerous. It can’t work like this anymore.”

– Stéphane Côté, Mayor of the Borough of L’Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève

“The worried residents of my district had to contact 311, but 311 did not necessarily have more information on what was going on and the next steps to come. There is no substitute for being on the field to inform people in real time. You can’t manage this remotely and inform people from an office.”

– Effie Giannou, City Councillor of the Bordeaux-Cartierville district

Summary of Ensemble Montréal’s requests to deal with spring flooding

  • Allocate a recurring fund for flood prevention in the operating budget and 2024-2033 ten-year capital works program (PDI) and identify timelines for doing so; 
  • Signing framework agreements with suppliers for the purchase and rental of equipment and proposing an action plan in collaboration with the Government of Quebec to make the measures sustainable;
  • Making the Specific Intervention Plan more flexible so that it can be adapted to the reality of each borough;
  • Erecting permanent dykes in Pierrefonds-Roxboro, L’Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève and Ahuntsic-Cartierville;
  • Forming teams within the City of Montreal’s Centre de coordination des mesures d’urgence (CCMU) that would be deployed quickly to boroughs experiencing flooding to support and communicate with residents; 
  • To provide an accounting of the amounts paid by the federal and provincial governments to the City of Montreal for spring flood prevention.

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