Some West Islanders are still picking up the pieces after spring flooding in 2017 and 2019, and Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Jim Beis is now sounding the alarm about what may happen this year.
He says he’s looking for permanent solutions to the problem, but that both the city of Montreal and the province are dragging their feet.
“No permanent solutions have been put in place this year,” Beis told a press conference on Wednesday.
Flanked by a pair of flood victims, Beis sent a message to mayor Valérie Plante and to the provincial government.
“I honestly don’t think maybe they even understand the magnitude of what we’re dealing in our community,” he said.
Pierrefonds was one of the areas hit hardest by spring flooding in both 2017 and 2019. Last year, the borough installed its own inflatable dikes and flood-blocking walls in strategic locations, saving over 90 per cent of the area.
Beis says his borough cannot afford to do it again, both financially and physically.
“It is impossible,” he said.
“This is enormous. This event cost us $6.3 millon.”
Beis says he wants help installing permanent flood-blocking infrastructure in the community.
“We want natural dikes, possibly seawalls and other methods used throughout the world,” Beis explained.
Beis wants part of the $50 million in federal funding Montreal received to help prevent future floods.
“Give the communities the money,” he said. “Give $2 million per year.”
Mayor Valérie Plante, meanwhile, said the city is looking for long-term solutions.
“We definitely need to make sure we are more resilient, so obviously we are looking at all the possible solutions,” she said.
“That includes, for example, the Grand Parc de l’Ouest, which is also there to support the resilience of the entire territory of the land.”
“I’m single, I’m divorced, I don’t have RRSPs, all I have is my house,” she told Global News, expressing concerns about her coming retirement.
“We’ve got real problems regarding insurance. With insurance problem, you’ve got a problem with the bank. Problems with the bank, you’ve got problems with the rest of your life,” said flood victim Rene Leblanc.
“We’re being held hostage through the many levels of government,” said flood victim Itsik Romano.
“We are working on a plan to respond to these kind of situations that we lived last spring again,” he said. “For the coming weeks we will answer all these questions.”
Beis wants officials to come to Pierrefonds, meet residents and discuss the issue.