• John Jantak

Vaudreuil-Dorion better prepared for another flood emergency


THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/JOHN JANTAK

Ville de Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon says the city is better prepared to handle another possible flood emergency this year in response to a resident’s concerns raised at the Monday evening council meeting on January 5.

Vaudreuil-Dorion is making preparations to deal with another possible flood this spring, said Mayor Guy Pilon, who answered concerns raised by a resident during the first question period at the Monday evening council meeting on February 5.

The response came after resident Scott Spence, who lives on Rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville west of Avenue Saint-Charles, told the mayor he was disappointed with the city’s response to the flood emergency last spring.

“I know it’s the first time there was a big flood here. I find the city was not very prepared at all,” Spence told council. Every day I saw the water coming up my street and I never saw any bags.” He said the water crested about two houses away from his home at the end of the street.

It would have been more efficient if sandbags were delivered closer to people’s homes rather than having residents go to city hall to pick them up, said Spence. He added that he went to a neighbouring municipality to pick up sandbags because he didn’t receive any from the city.

City responded diligently

Pilon was surprised by Spence’s assertion, saying the city prepared 40,000 sandbags and worked diligently to minimize the impact of the flood. “He’s the only person who wasn’t happy. I don’t know why,” Pilon told The Journal during a telephone interview February 6.

“Last year, contrary to what Mr. Spence said, we responded so well that our city was cited twice by the provincial government as a model for its prompt response to the crisis. They looked at our emergency management and planning and said ‘We can’t teach you, but we can learn from you’,” said Pilon.

While most of the flooding was contained along Avenue Saint-Charles near the Vaudreuil Bay shoreline, water flowed into the city’s drainage pipes and the backflow flooded some inland city streets, said Pilon. “Now we know where to block the drains to prevent flooding in residential areas,” he said.

Flood planning underway

“We did everything we could at that point. It was a record high level of water and we were not prepared for that. We will be more prepared this year, that’s for sure,” said Pilon.

Spence is concerned there could be a repeat of last year’s flood with the high water level prevalent in the region’s lakes and rivers since fall and the large amount of snow that has accumulated this winter.

Pilon said the city has been working with the Municipalité Régionale de Comté (MRC) de Vaudreuil-Soulanges, provincial authorities, Hydro-Québec and the city’s administrative team to prepare for a possible repeat flooding scenario this spring. “We are looking at every possibility,” said Pilon.

Possible toxic fire danger

The city will investigate a report also made by Spence during question period about an apparent large pile of used railroad ties that could pose a danger to nearby residents if they ever caught fire. The pile which is on private railroad property can be seen from Rue Galt.

“I live in that area. If somebody were to ever light it up, it would be a disaster,” said Spence, a retired firefighter who worked for the City of Montreal for 37 years. He estimates there are about 2,000 discarded ties on the property in different piles.

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

A pile of discarded railroad ties on rail yard property in Vaudreuil-Dorion is seen from Rue Galt on February 6. Resident Scott Spence is concerned a potential fire at the location could be difficult to extinguish and release toxic smoke into the nearby residential area.

The used ties contain creosote, a chemical wood preservative and if ignited, would release toxic smoke into the air. The largest pile would burn more intensely because of its size and be harder to extinguish because of the creosote, according to Spence. “It’s extremely toxic,” he said. “It’s very dangerous if you breathe it.”

Pilon said he wasn’t aware of the situation until Spence brought it to council’s attention. “The city will look into it immediately,” he said. “We will investigate and send a message to Canadian National and Canadian Pacific to find out what they intend to do with the pile.”

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