Martin C. Barry
Deux-Montagnes city council’s monthly public meeting on March 12 started on an upbeat note with an announcement by Polyvalente Deux-Montagnes teacher Gaétan Asselin that the school’s annual Relais 8 Heures Deux-Montagnes is scheduled to take place on May 2, depending, of course, on the circumstances arising from the COVID-19 crisis.
Relais 8 Heures
If all goes well, this will be the sixth year for the Relais 8 Heures. As Asselin pointed out, just as you can count on maple sap to start running in the hills of the Lower Laurentians each spring, so too have North Shore residents been able to look forward during the first warm weeks to the Polyvalente Deux-Montagnes Foundation’s fundraiser.
Deux-Montagnes city councillors Frédéric Berthiaume and Erik Johnson were among the hundreds of people who took part in last year’s Relais 8 Heures, in teams of six, around a 1.5 kilometre oval on the grounds of Polyvalente Deux-Montagnes.
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“While I don’t want to get into politics, Mr. Berthiaume’s team finished fourth among the 60 teams that took part,” said Asselin, who invited everyone on city council to take part in this year’s event. It will raise funds to help Polyvalente Deux-Montagnes students who have learning problems.
In his monthly report to residents and council, Mayor Denis Martin said work on a major section of the REM high-speed train project will be starting in May along du Lac Boulevard where an overpass is going to be built to replace the level crossing that currently goes over the Exo train line.
“This is going to cause a major disruption and we will have to manage traffic,” he said, noting that the east and west sides of du Lac Blvd. will be closed off from one another for the next two years or so.
Ongoing flood zone efforts
According to the mayor, the main Deux-Montagnes Exo train station on Deux-Montagnes Blvd. is also scheduled to be demolished – beginning probably in late May or in June, he said.
Regarding the city’s continuing efforts to have the provincial environment ministry lift building restrictions in areas where a Special Intervention Zone was decreed after the spring 2019 flooding, Mayor Martin said some Deux-Montagnes homeowners are worse off today than they were before the 2019 floods as a result of the intervention zone.
“We find ourselves in a situation today after the new flood maps that is worse than before the 2019 floods,” he said. “We’re trying to change that and we’ve been pulling out our hair trying.”
Flood zone frustrations
As he noted, the provincial government held consultations last year on its new flood zone policy – although the manner in which the flood maps have been applied in Deux-Montagnes and in surrounding communities has left many property owners frustrated.
Since the implementation of the new zones, low-risk 20-100-year areas have been eliminated and replaced with 0-20 zones. “Around 100 of our residents who were 20-100 are now 0-20 and it’s causing them problems,” the mayor said in an interview, noting that the changes stop new construction and renovations from being carried out, while also having other impacts.
“Everybody who was in 20-100 zones that became 0-20, they’re having more problems selling their house. They cannot do things, like add a pool, which they could before. All we are asking is that they (Quebec) brings it back to what it was before.”
The COVID-19 crisis
While Quebec insists the redefined flood zones are necessary in view of the likelihood of future flooding, Mayor Martin maintains the new flood map should be redrawn, taking into account the preventive measures Deux-Montagnes is implementing (mainly new anti-flood dikes along the waterfront).
Regarding the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and its impact in Deux-Montagnes, the mayor said the city is receiving instructions from the Quebec Ministry of Public Security. The preventive measures being implemented by the city include the closure of the library, the arena and the suspension of all cultural, sporting and leisure activities. As well, the Quebec government’s directive to ban events gathering more than 250 people is being respected.