Has the City of Montreal learned any lessons from the spring floods that occurred in 2017 and 2019? According to a report on the level of preparedness of large Canadian cities to flood risks, the Quebec metropolis is not better equipped to deal with new floods.
Montreal receives a C score for its flood preparedness, according to the University of Waterloo’s Intact Climate Adaptation Center, while its score was B- in 2015.
This result is described as “disappointing” by Joanna Eyquem, director of climate change adaptation programs in Quebec at the Intact Center.
“Floods are the most important climate challenge in Quebec,” she says. As we move into flood season, when people are told to stay home under COVID-19 restrictions, Quebecers are even more vulnerable. Cities should understand the consequences of not being prepared for the next “waves” of impacts that we see coming from climate change. ”
The average score for all major Canadian cities is C + for 2019-2020.
Montreal obtains its top marks in the areas of land use planning, urban drainage assessment and flood risk assessment.
On the other hand, its results are poorer in terms of risk mitigation for residential properties, public health and safety, emergency management and risk mitigation for critical infrastructure.
The report notes that the City of Montreal “provides information to its residents on a case-by-case basis when they apply for a building permit, but does not take measures to mitigate river flooding. It also does not offer a subsidy program for the installation of non-return valves in existing houses ”.
The researchers also point out that the City has not assessed the vulnerabilities of its electricity network or its food systems.
Montreal also lacks a detailed plan for hazardous chemical releases, and its powers are insufficient to require dam owners or operators to monitor risks, the report laments.
Finally, the researchers emphasize that the province and the City of Montreal are working to unify their respective flood forecasting and warning systems. “This is a necessary and essential step, because the watershed of the St. Lawrence River could represent a major threat to Montreal,” they write in the report.
The Intact Center has prepared a document to help citizens better prepare their homes to prevent the risk of flooding.
> Consult the document of the Intact Center
Moderate risk of spring flooding
For the moment, “the risk of flooding Lake Ontario remains a moderate possibility, but less likely than the risk observed on that date last spring,” said the International Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River Council, in a press release. published February 12.
“Although the water levels in Lake Erie and the upper Great Lakes are all lower than they were a year ago, they are still very high. Thus, water supplies from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario will remain significant in the coming months. This, combined with uncertain seasonal factors, such as precipitation and runoff from snowmelt, [représente] a moderate risk of flooding in the Lake Ontario basin this spring. ”
The Council points out that, as a preventive measure, the water level of Lake Ontario has been lowered this winter, since January, in case the weather turns rainy.
“The slightly drier weather conditions in recent months, combined with conditions favorable to freezing the river and maintaining high flows in Lake Ontario, have led to a drop in its water level, so that it is is now a few inches below its long-term seasonal average. ”