Quebec Environment Ministry rejects Île-Bizard's plan to build temporary dikes

In a letter sent to the borough mayor, a ministry official said provincial rules don't allow dike-building in the fall — and in any case, a dike that would be up for several months wouldn't be considered temporary.

Government says building a dike now for next spring against ministry rules, asks for more permanent solution

Jean-Yves Street in Île-Bizard, where Ross McLean lives, was one of many flooded roads in western Montreal during spring 2019. (Matt D'Amours/CBC)

A plan from a citizens' group on Île-Bizard to build temporary dikes now to help mitigate potential spring flooding in 2020 has been rejected by the Quebec Environment Ministry. 

In a letter sent to Normand Marinacci, borough mayor of Île-Bizard—Sainte-Geneviève, a ministry official said provincial rules don't allow dike-building in the fall — and that in any case, if the proposed dike would be up for several months, it wouldn't be considered temporary.

The official says while the environment minister is aware of residents' concerns and their desire to be proactive, "putting in dikes in the fall is not permitted under the Protection Policy for Lakeshores, Riverbanks, Littoral Zones and Flood plains."

The letter goes on to suggest that the municipality come up with a permanent solution, if the sector is at risk of recurrent flooding.

Ross McLean is part of a committee of Île-Bizard residents living in flood zones. Last month, they held a protest, calling for the construction of temporary dikes before winter. (Matt D'Amours/CBC)

After living through two floods in as many years, Île-Bizard resident Ross McLean joined the citizens' committee to help come up with solutions for his community's recurrent flood problem.

"There is no one on this street, and I can assure you, probably no one that lives near a river in any capacity, in this province, or in this country, that isn't constantly thinking about this," said McLean.

In the face of the Environment Ministry's ruling, the borough now plans to hire an engineering firm to come up with other solutions that the ministry might find acceptable.

With files from CBC's Matt D'Amours