Pierrefonds-Roxboro wants clarity from Montreal on how it plans to prevent future spring floods
MONTREAL -- The mayor of Montreal's Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough says he's frustrated with what he calls the City of Montreal's lack of transparency over whether or not millions of dollars of federal funds will be used to prevent future disastrous flooding in the West Island.
Last spring, the borough says it built dikes and booms to halt invading waters – measures Mayor Jim Beis insists greatly reduced damage compared to the floods in 2017.
Nevertheless, he states some of his residents have been waiting three years to find out if they will be able to rebuild their homes. He notes it will all depend on whether there are plans to construct permanent dikes in the area.
Beis argues city officials have been vague about how they plan to invest a $50-million grant from the federal government, designated to protect the Island of Montreal from flooding.
He claims Robert Beaudry, the Montreal councillor in charge of large parks, told him the money is earmarked for wetland development, including the Grand Parc de l'Ouest project.
"It makes absolutely no sense," said Beis. "It's not by buying a parcel of land in the west that protects my territory."
Beis said he wonders whether the city's plan is the best way to protect homeowners in a flood zone.
"What do we tell our residents that have been there for decades -- and have their home and have lived there all their lives? That we don't have any permanent solutions?" said Beis.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante insisted that rather than building dikes, the park will work as "natural infrastructure" by preserving wetlands and protecting against potential floods.
She said pumping stations will also be installed to help prevent water overflows from the Rivière des Prairies.
The $50 million in federal funds comes from the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, which was created in 2017 to help communities build the infrastructure they need to better withstand extreme weather like floods, fires, earthquakes and droughts.
NO BOROUGH CONSULTATIONS, SAYS BEIS
Beis said he wants to raise his concerns with members of the mayor's team, but he said the centre city is making all the decisions and not consulting with the borough.
Beis said he believes it may have something to do with the fact that he's a member of the opposition at city hall.
"Why aren't we invited to sit around the table? Now I can easily pull the party line and say it's because I don't sit inside the party. I don't want to say, necessarily, but there is no other explanation, is what I'm saying," he said.
Projet Montreal councillor Rosannie Filato denies that accusation, saying Beis has always been in the loop.
"On this question, politics has to be put aside. We need to work together," she said, adding that the wetlands they'll develop will go a long way to preventing future floods.
"The objective of having those wetlands is to make sure the water is absorbed, that our territory is more resilient. And let's remember that the local Pierrefonds administration wanted to build houses on that land. What we want to do is keep those green spaces and make sure the water is absorbed," she said.
Beis and Filato will meet this week to discuss the matter further.