Montreal

Potholes, insects, cracked foundations: Montreal prepares for climate change

Montreal bureaucrats are making preparations for future droughts, floods and heat waves that could come with climate change.

Montreal's future may not include outdoor skating, but may mean more trees, green roofs and longer pool season

The orange-coloured dots in the central section of Montreal are considered vulnerable to heavy rainfall. (City of Montreal )

Deeper and scarier potholes, new insect infestations and cracked house foundations are some of the future problems Montrealers may have to grapple with due to climate change.

Montreal bureaucrats issued a five-year plan this week to prepare for droughts, floods and heat waves that could come as a result of new weather patterns.  

New rules may need to be enacted to compel homebuilders to construct eco-friendly roofs. Residents might be encouraged to recycle rainwater, and more parking spaces in the city could be eliminated.

Heat waves leading to deaths have been occurring with greater frequency in the Montreal region over recent years. (City of Montreal)

City administrators also have to look to changes such as refrigerating outdoor rinks if they're going to be kept open and lengthening the season for outdoor pools, according to the executive committee member who oversaw this climate-change report, Réal Ménard.

"There are solutions, investments, methods to prepare as a group," Ménard told Radio Canada.  "There will be temperature increases, so we are looking at all scenarios."

"We have no reason not to act." 

The island's 19 boroughs and 15 municipalities will work together to coordinate measures such as planting more trees and providing cooling stations during heat waves, he noted. 

Road maintenance methods will be altered as well, as rapid weather shifts will likely increase the pothole plague. 

"We must change the way we build," said Ménard,adding that potholes will be filled with more durable and waterproof material. 

Homeowners are also warned that droughts could bring more incidents of cracked foundations – a problem home insurance policies seldom cover.

Provincial data reveal a significant spike in cases of Lyme's disease and Nile fever in Quebec in recent years, likely caused by a northern migration of animals that carry the disease. (City of Montreal )

The report's maps illustrate areas of Montreal island that could be most vulnerable to weather extremes such as floods, droughts and heat waves. Only a few isolated spots have been singled out for particular concern.

For example, certain neighbourhoods in the Southwest borough, Côte-des-Neiges and St-Léonard are especially vulnerable to heavy rains.

The report also recommends stabilizing shorelines to protect them from floods and ensuring accessible, clean water during droughts.

The climate-change plan will be reviewed and renewed in 2017-2018.

Weather charts indicate a rise in freezing rain in Montreal since 1979. (City of Montreal )

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