The issue of residential flooding on Victoria Street took center stage during the question period of the extraordinary session of the Lachine Borough Council on August 14. Several dozens of residents attended the meeting at city hall.
On July 13, heavy rainfall caused the overflow of the rainwater drainage system, resulting in flooding in a condominium building. According to the first citizen to address the council, representing a collective of about a hundred people, this is the second time such incident occurs in 4 years. It is highly likely that this will recur in the coming years due to the impact of climate change, but also the current layout and design of the area.
“We believe that the cause is multifactorial and that similar events are happening more and more frequently. This time, the flooding forced 13 households to relocate, severely damaging their condos, affecting private and public garages, sheds, and vehicles,” stated the citizen, on behalf of the collective, urging swift solutions to the problem.
He also expressed concern that these residences might soon become uninsurable, stressing the urgency of finding short-term solutions.
“We are currently studying what the city can do to establish an overall plan,” responded Lachine’s Mayor, Maja Vodanovic. “The current issue is that our infrastructure is incapable of handling such heavy rainfall. Over the past 10 years, we’ve invested in constructing retention basins,” added the council member, who also oversees water-related matters on Montreal’s Executive Committee. She highlighted that these solutions are both time-consuming and costly to implement.
Mayor Vodanovic also emphasized that every new construction project in Lachine must now include a rainwater retention basin.
In Montreal, an estimated 20,000 people have filed claims related to flooding since 2013, according to the council member.
Possible Solutions to Prevent Repeated Flooding?
Maja Vodanovic urged citizens to take mitigation measures such as installing backwater valves, investing in watertight garage doors, and constructing barriers.
From the city and borough’s perspective, she acknowledged the need to improve infrastructure and find ways to redirect water.
“You are in a low point. Victoria Street is situated in a depression. Ideally, we would examine each flooded building and determine where the water could go. Sometimes, simple solutions are effective, but they need to be studied. We must collectively find ways to assist you,” she emphasized.
Another resident of Victoria Street inquired whether it would be possible to impose a moratorium on new constructions until the infrastructure is updated. Mayor Vodanovic retorted that the issue lies in the fact that the network was built in such a way that rainwater and sewage converge in the same pipeline, along with buried old streams.
Another citizen also questioned the prioritization of road or conduit renovation projects.
The mayor clarified that the refurbishment of a conduit or pipeline is determined by its state of disrepair. “We’ve inherited a massive lack of infrastructure maintenance. But even if we invested in infrastructure, you’d still experience flooding. The building structure must absolutely be changed,” she argued.
Another long-time resident of Lachine pointed out that roadside ditches were removed to make way for asphalt and parking, contributing to the current runoff of rainwater.
Maja Vodanovic reminded that a public consultation on the future of water is currently underway, encompassing the entire issue of flooding and rainwater management.
A meeting between property owners and the borough will be organized shortly.
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