Martin C. Barry
In a spontaneous outpouring of emotion rarely seen at Deux-Montagnes city hall, a small but enthusiastic crowd of residents gave the mayor and council a standing ovation at the beginning of the May 16 city council meeting, acknowledging the city’s recent success in keeping Deux-Montagnes safe from the spring of 2019’s floods.
It was a stark contrast to the scene in Deux-Montagnes in the spring two years ago when the city was among the hardest-hit Quebec communities for flooding. The waters overwhelmed dozens of Deux-Montagnes’ streets along the waterfront, resulting in widespread flood damage that seriously impacted hundreds of families’ lives.
City council thanked
Referring to the mayor and council members as “stars,” longtime Deux-Montagnes resident Monique Dorion of 28th Ave., one of the most stridently vocal critics of several administrations, said, “Thanks infinitely for all the exceptional work that you’ve done. Thank you for the good decisions you made as precautions. Thanks for keeping up the work. What you’re doing is gigantic. Don’t give up. We appreciate it enormously.”
Since the 2017 floods, the mayor and council of Deux-Mountagnes worked ceaselessly on measures to minimize the chances of flooding taking place again – even though no one could be certain until they were tested.
The measures included building up an inventory of concrete barriers to be used along with rubber liners to create temporary anti-flood dikes in strategic locations along Deux-Montagnes’ waterfront. At the same time, city officials lobbied the Quebec Environment Ministry to allow a permanent dike to be built.
No floods in Deux-Montagnes
Although the permanent dike hadn’t been built by the time this year’s floods struck, the temporary measures held firmly and Deux-Montagnes had virtually no flooding this spring, in comparison to the neighbouring community of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac where a section of dike broke, resulting in some of the worst flooding in Quebec.
Visibly moved by the tribute, Mayor Martin said regarding the crisis, “In my life it was something memorable. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that it was something that needed to be done.” A man in the audience shouted out, “It takes a leader,” following which there was another round of applause and the council meeting went on.
While what happened in Deux-Montagnes certainly was good news, what happened in Sainte-Marthe certainly was not. And it would seem at this point that some of the impact from the neighbouring municipality’s troubles could conceivably end up spilling over into Deux-Montagnes’ camp.
During question period, Monique Dorion again got up to grill the mayor and council on the implications of Sainte-Marthe’s fate. “We had a close call with the construction of the pool in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac,” she said, referring to the indoor pool project Deux-Montagnes signed onto with Sainte-Marthe. It had originally been slated to be built in an area that got flooded.
However, the more serious issue may be Sainte-Marthe’s post-flood financial stability, depending on whether the town is deemed liable in pending class-action lawsuits. As it is, up to one-third of Sainte-Marthe’s territory was flooded. Dorion asked the mayor point blank, “Do we suspend the interior swimming pool project with Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac taking into account their current finances and the state of their territory?”
Mayor Martin responded that since the new location chosen for the pool project (near Sainte-Marthe town hall and the Giant Tiger store) isn’t within a flood zone, he didn’t see any reason why the project shouldn’t go ahead. He said that with a government subsidy Deux-Montagnes obtained with Sainte-Marthe, the project should proceed, “or else we are risking losing the subsidy.”
‘Not concerned,’ says Mayor Martin
In a post-council interview with the North Shore News, the mayor said that even though the flood zone map in Sainte-Marthe is going to be changing, the pool still won’t be within a flood zone. “The project has no change, the property has no change, so the property where we’re going will not be a problem,” he said.
As for Sainte-Marthe’s future financially, he acknowledged, “There are many lawsuits pending. We can understand that people had 15 days to signify what they wanted to do. So now a judge will verify to see if the city is responsible or not. There’s also compensation from the government for many of those homes.”
Asked whether he was concerned about the future of any agreements with Sainte-Marthe taking the recent events into account, he replied, “No, I’m not concerned at all.”