• John Jantak

Ste. Anne’s preps for possible springtime flooding


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa said the city will do what it can to prevent a repeat of last year’s flooding which devastated the city’s basement food bank on Rue Ste-Anne next to the canal but said the best solution would be for the organization to find a new location.

Preparations are underway in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue to raise public awareness about another possible flood situation that could recur near waterfront properties this spring, said Mayor Paola Hawa.

A public information meeting is planned for next week to advise home and business owners what they should do to prepare ahead of time, and all the items they need to have to have on hand if another flood occurs Hawa told The Journal during a telephone interview on March 13.

“We’ve already met with representatives of the condo associations and we’ve been working with them for the past few months,” said Hawa. “They’ve started their own group also and they’re preparing for what they can do along the waterfront.”

Rapid response

The unprecedented flood last May mostly affected residents living close to the waterfront near the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal National Historic Site just north of Autoroute 20 and a few inland streets. At least 100 households were affected and about 60 people had to evacuate their homes when floodwaters peaked on May 7.

The city’s rapid response to the emergency situation helped to minimize the flooding. “We did a post-mortem afterwards. We were way ahead of the City of Montreal and other municipalities,” said Hawa. “Our emergency plan went into effect immediately. We already had sand bags down by the time Montreal called to let us know they were declaring a state of emergency two days later.”

Lessons learned from last year’s crisis have been implemented into the city’s emergency response strategy. “We did very well for a little city like ours but of course, there’s always room for improvement. We’re fine-tuning a few things. We’ll be as ready as we can be but you can never be prepared for every single possibility,” said Hawa.

Citizens are encouraged to register with Code Red, the city’s automated emergency call service to receive alerts and general advisories by phone, email, and text message. “This is the best way to communicate with people,” said Hawa.

Food bank

The city will also do what it can to prevent a repeat of last year’s flooding which devastated the city’s basement food bank on Rue Ste-Anne next to the canal. “It reinforces the idea that it really cannot stay there. During the last flood, you couldn’t even get close to it for about a month. This goes against the idea of having an accessible food bank,” said Hawa.

“We told the organization about two years ago that they would be there temporarily. We need to start thinking long-term about where they’re going to go. Let not forget that the building is on Parks Canada land. The whole area is being redesigned. It’s really not optimal where they are right now and they knew it when they moved in,” Hawa added.

Feral cat program

The city adopted a resolution during its Monday evening council meeting on March 12 to contribute $5,000 to the SPCA to support its Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program to sterilize outdoor feral cats. The program has been adopted by many municipalities and aims to reduce the feral cat population through sterilization instead of euthanizing the animals.

“We have a cat problem so we’re adopting a program that other cities have in place. The cats will be neutered so they won’t be propagating, but it’ll take time. This is a more humane way of doing it,” said Hawa.

Volunteers will trap the cats and bring them to the SPCA where they will be neutered. The animal welfare organization will try to have the cats adopted, and if they can’t, they will be returned to the areas where they were picked up, said Hawa.

Part of the problem apparently stems from students who abandon their pets. “They get cats and then when they move, they leave them outside. Cats reproduce quickly and now we have a challenge with a lot of wandering cats,” said Hawa.

The city hopes to work with representatives from John Abbott College and McGill University to sensitize students to the responsibilities of cat ownership, said Hawa.

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