'We laugh, but it's true': Formula E barriers could be reused as dams during future floods

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante got a kick out of a "creative suggestion" from the Ville-Marie borough that could help in case of another devastating flood — using those costly Formula E barriers as dikes.

Valérie Plante called the suggestion on how to recycle the $7.5M racetrack barriers 'creative'

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante was amused at Wednesday's executive committee meeting by the suggestion of using the costly Formula E concrete barriers as dikes. (Radio-Canada)

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante got a kick out of a "creative suggestion" from the Ville-Marie borough that could help in case of another devastating flood — using those costly Formula E barriers as dikes.

Plante submitted the proposal at today's executive committee meeting, after the presentation of a report on this spring's devastating floods.

The idea fills two needs with one deed, as the 1,725 slabs of concrete, which cost $7.5 million, are sitting unused now that Plante has cancelled the race

"Thank you for the report and since we were talking about dams … the Ville-Marie borough has some creative suggestions," she said, her smile growing. 

"They're proposing [making] removable dikes using concrete blocks and that works out well," Plante said as others around the table began to giggle.

"Because we have concrete barriers in stock and I think they could be reused!"

Of the $24 million Formula E budget, $7.5 million was earmarked for 1,725 concrete barriers. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

'After all, we are an island'

The Coderre administration bought the barriers to create the outline for the downtown racetrack.

The price tag on the barriers was denounced by many, some of whom said similar barriers could have been rented for a fraction of the price.

"We laugh, but it's true" that the barriers could be reused, Plante said. She said the idea coming from Ville-Marie, a borough that wasn't affected during the flood, illustrates how many different players are pitching in to find solutions.

"We have to be realistic. We're wishing not to have another event of the magnitude, but there are chances it happens again.

"After all, we are an island."

The report, prepared by the Montreal fire department, found that 430 homes flooded, 1,100 people were stranded and the agglomeration of Montreal spent $8 million during the floods.

A potential flaw

The city hasn't explained how it would stop the holes underneath the barriers from letting water through in they're used in a future flood. (CBC)

CBC News has identified a potential flaw in the plan: the barriers have an arched hole at their base that could let water through. 

Plante and her colleagues did not say whether it would be feasible to fill the holes. 

But city spokesperson Anik de Repentigny acknowledged in an emailed statement that "the possibility of using the concrete walls … during floods is indeed under study."

"Of course, if necessary, the holes and interstices between the walls will have to be sealed.

"The walls are nevertheless a mechanical barrier of great interest."