Cities need $ 4 billion to tackle climate change in five years

Adapting infrastructure to face the reality of climate change could cost Québec cities more than $ 4 billion in five years, according to a study conducted by Ouranos to be unveiled Thursday in Gatineau, by the Union of Quebec Municipalities (UMQ).
The study that Le Droit obtained an exclusive copy is a first in the municipal world in Canada. It aims to quantify the direct impact on municipal spending and investment needs to adapt their infrastructure and urban development. His findings will be the focus of discussions at the city’s resilient climate change summit this week in Gatineau.

“We were expecting something like that, but it’s scary,” says UMQ President Alexandre Cusson. In the current fiscal context and the programs in place, we will not succeed. More accessible programs are needed that recognize the front-line role that municipalities play in addressing climate change. It is worrisome and it makes it difficult to see the investments to be made, but it is reassuring to me that the municipal sector wishes to exercise its leadership in this area. ”

The firm Ouranos recognizes that a “critical lack” of accurate data has complicated the exercise.

“Most studies do not deal with the costs of adapting to climate change,” says author Alain Bourque.

The cost assessment focused on four types of infrastructure work; drinking water supply, sewage system capacity and wastewater treatment, greening and green infrastructure development, and road and building rehabilitation.

The bulk of municipal spending would go toward increasing sewer capacity.

According to Ouranos, the multiplication of heavy rainfall events requires an accelerated renewal of networks. The ten largest cities in Quebec may have to invest up to $ 349 million a year over the next five years to be able to adapt. In Quebec, nearly $ 3.8 billion could be invested by 2023.

Freezing and thawing

The pothole season is already well underway throughout Quebec. “We’re only talking about that at home [Drummondville] right now,” notes Mayor Cusson. People’s reaction is to constantly remind us that there are too many, but they do not ask why there are so many. They think it’s because the city does not do the work, because it’s careless, but that’s not the reality at all. ”

Ouranos warns that the already huge infrastructure maintenance deficit in the province’s cities will be exacerbated by climate change and ever-increasing weather extremes. In the last few years, cities have had to deal with more intense and greater periods of freezing and thawing. This has a marked effect on the condition of the streets so that to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it will be nearly $ 700 million that will have to be invested by the municipalities of Quebec for the repair of roads within five years.

“It will have to be done intelligently,” insists Mr. Cusson. The municipal mission will remain. We must continue to invest in our libraries, in our sports infrastructures and support innovation in our cities. We can not stop doing that. People who think we are going to close our libraries because there are potholes are wrong, it will not happen. We must continue to invest in something else. It should be understood that 60% of public infrastructures in Quebec are municipal, but they receive only 8% of the province’s infrastructure budgets. We need to work on this imbalance with governments. There is also a lot of pedagogy to do with our citizens. We must explain and remain pragmatic. It is necessary that Monsieur Madame Tout-le-Monde understands the reality. “

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