Montréal’s Resilient City Strategy represents an ambitious initial proposal for Montréal.
Using the citizen as its starting point and then shifting its focus to the Montréal community, the municipal administration, and ultimately to public and private organizations, this strategy broadly reflects a global movement towards resilience. This movement recognizes the necessity of pooling our efforts across all spheres of society in order to make cities more resilient. Montréal’s Resilient City Strategy is thus geared to all Montrealers. An initial five-year action plan sets out four major orientations and 12 objectives.
Because the city, as an organization, plays a preponderant role at the local level, it is crucial that it meet the needs and expectations of its citizens and be the first to take action in emergency situations. The city, today, wishes to improve its capacity to anticipate, prevent and adapt to challenges likely to affect Montrealers as well as Montréal’s assets and development. The municipal administration also intends to heighten awareness among citizens and business managers across the city of the importance of developing their state of preparedness in order to better deal collectively with shocks and stresses.
Resilience has been identified, in recent years, as a quality essential to promoting the capacity of cities to deal with shocks and stresses. While the city already has programs that, directly and indirectly, help make Montréal more resilient, there was a clear need to adopt a formal resilience strategy. This strategy will lend a more comprehensive vision of current vulnerabilities, with an improved capacity to anticipate future threats, and an integrated and efficient action plan geared to the specific challenges we face.
Our city has long been recognized for its tradition of mutual aid. The social economy sector –already well established in Montréal – offers a broad array of services adapted to the specific needs of our most disadvantaged. Furthermore, Montréal’s rich community network, strongly rooted in its neighbourhoods, has spurred considerable capacity to adapt to and meet citizens’ emerging and changing needs. Neighbourhood roundtables, in the role of broadly representative local advisory bodies, determine key action priorities related to housing, urban development, food and urban security, the environment, transportation, and more. In this way, the roundtables place citizens at the heart of their approach and mobilize neighbours to build united and safe communities.
This sense of solidarity must be cultivated on a daily basis and enriched to ensure the safety of all Montrealers, particularly the most vulnerable. Montréal faces a range of social and environmental challenges, leaving significant risk of crisis situations occurring. In emergency situations, as in risk prevention, knowledge of best practices and social solidarity become powerful drivers of resilience for a community. These capacities among Montrealers must be supported, and mechanisms to promote solidarity and inclusion must be established, for the proactive role they can play in risk prevention and in emergency situations.
Key objectives include:
- Strengthen the community’s capacity to adapt and react to natural
and anthropogenic risks.
- Preserve an environment that meets Montrealers’ essential needs.
- Develop mutual aid and inclusion mechanisms to promote solidarity between citizens and reduce vulnerabilities.
The quality of life of Montrealers depends largely on the quality of their day-to-day living environment. Made up of various infrastructures, this environment plays multiples roles: on the one hand, green infrastructure favour biodiversity, ecological practices, and urban agriculture, thus promoting the health and well-being of the population; on the other, grey infrastructure, including buildings, water and sewer networks, and artwork, support essential public services. These assets form a shared heritage that is key to our people’s quality of life, Montréal’s economic vitality, and our overall capacity to cope with recurring or unexpected challenges.
A major challenge is the Montréal climate. Marked by harsh winters and significant variations in seasonal temperature, our climate affects both the population of Montréal and its infrastructure. On top of that, climate change is likely to exacerbate natural phenomena. In order to sustain resilience in our living environment, green and grey infrastructures must be protected and made more resistant, not only to ongoing stresses, but also to the natural and anthropogenic hazards likely to affect them. Infrastructure planning and land use must therefore support our collective development, taking into account our ongoing stresses, potential shocks, and their environmental and social impacts.
Key objectives include:
- Ensure improved consideration of risks in land use and infrastructure planning.
- Carry out more exhaustive cost-benefit analyses on mitigation measures.
- Develop and sustain infrastructures to ensure the maintenance of services and essential systems.
Montréal’s economy has experiences rapid growth in the past few years, though the municipal administration faces a number of socioeconomic challenges. Slower demographic growth, an aging population, labour force requalification needs arising from massive retirement departures – all constitute disruptive elements of our economy. Our economy is furthermore undergoing rapid changes, including the loss of manufacturing jobs to emerging countries across the globe. To sustain a resilient economy, Montréal will be required to attract and retain foreign talent, with plans in place to properly integrate new residents into the community. Montréal will also be required to foster a greater state of preparedness for various challenges in the private sector; in the event of a disaster, the municipal administration must do its part to ensure the rapid and efficient recovery of business establishments.
The movement of people and goods, an essential condition for the productivity of the economy as a whole, also represents a major issue for Montréal, due to its insular reality and aging transportation infrastructure. That said, the transportation sector is undergoing profound change, with the continued development of the public transit network, the accelerated growth of active transportation (i.e. cycling, walking), the implementation of bike and car share systems, and more. The municipal administration must be inventive about ensuring the proper integration of new, effective modes of transit, and that they are adapted to the needs of our broader community.
Key objectives include:
- Promote a good state of preparedness among companies and business establishments in order to deal with disturbances.
- Ensure the effective and secure movement of people and goods.
- Anticipate socioeconomic challenges and capitalize on knowledge and creativity assets.
Managing major disturbances across the city involves multiple authorities. Events such as the major snowstorm and floods in early 2017 highlighted the need to review our preparation for catastrophes as well as the coordination of the various actors and authorities involved.
For a resilient city, an integrated governance structure is a must. That governance structure should favour an extensive knowledge base, risk-sharing among multiple actors, and a coordinated response system in the event of disruptions likely to affect the living conditions and safety of citizens. Horizontal integration must be established to promote improved coordination between municipal departments, establish working ties between various stakeholders across the city, and draw on lessons learned in the wake of a disaster. Additionally, efforts must be made to better organize vertical integration internally – between central services, the boroughs, and the broader community – and externally, with higher levels of public administration (federal, provincial and regional).
Key objectives include:
- Ensure the city’s adequate state of preparedness in relation to natural and anthropogenic risks.
- Collaborate and share expertise in order to promote informed decision-making.
- Establish interactive communications between authorities and the public so as to disseminate information daily and alert citizens in the event of a disaster.