By Lilia Yumagulova
Montréal, June 18, 2018 – Montréal is the first Canadian City to release its Resilience Strategy, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities” initiative.
“Today, Montréal is the first Canadian city to present a resilient city strategy. It proposes a collaborative vision of urban resilience in order to support an urban community that is alert, proactive and unifying in facing social, economic and environmental challenges. The city’s goal is to instill solidarity and safety on its territory, to protect its living environment, maintain a diversified and innovative economy, and to promote integrated governance geared towards serving the community,” stated Louise Bradette, director of the Bureau de la résilience.
As Mayor Valérie Plante added on Monday, the city now has a strategy for dealing with a wide range of emergencies.
“The strategy is intended for the entire population. We are gathering the tools to improve our response to shocking events such as natural disasters, tragedies, terrorist attacks, or situations likely to weaken our city, such as an aging population and social exclusion. Moreover, our strategy will enable the population, institutions, businesses and systems to react and resist more effectively and efficiently to unforeseen events,” explained Mayor Plante.
Resilience as a broad planning concept
Resilience as a core guiding planning concept is allowing the City of Montréal to move beyond the usual domains of emergency management and civil protection.
In addition to emergencies, the Resilience Strategy addresses poverty, inequality and aging infrastructures. This expanded approach to resilience beyond hazard-specific actions is similar to other initiatives that we covered previously in HazNet, including Boston’s Resilience Strategy, which addresses racism and inequality, and San Francisco’s Resilience Strategy, which addresses earthquakes, sea level rise, and housing crisis.
Actions so far have included promoting individual emergency preparedness and organizational business continuity, setting up the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence, identifying emergency shelters across the city, promoting urban agriculture and revising urban planning to mitigate flood risks.
Four main directions will drive Montréal’s resilience action over the next 5 years: supporting a united and safe community, protecting its living environment, maintaining a diversified and innovative economy, and promoting integrated governance in the service of the community.
A consultative and evidence-based process
Montreal’s Resilience Strategy is a result of citizen consultations and working groups made up of more than one hundred internal and external partners, held by the city’s Bureau de la résilience.
“We benefited from and built on our experience in civil protection. The resilience planning process was primarily about bringing stakeholders together around a common problem. We started with workshops, more personal interviews, and conversations with the public. As with any planning process, there were some challenges. In those cases, the approach was to develop a common project in order to increase stakeholder’s interest. For example, within the economic sector we placed an emphasis on sharing business continuity practices to get them at the table,” explained Louise Bradette.
Another striking feature of Louise Bradette’s team work was a close research to practice connection and data rich and evidence-based planning process. “We have a long history of shared experiences and projects with the academics. We continued this relationship with the resilience strategy on many levels such as governance, infrastructures etc. I believe in an open and continued discussion about the challenges to create a common vocabulary. If the academics are well aware of our needs, it’s easier to propose relevant projects”.
Still, Plante noted that while the city is better prepared for weather-related emergencies, other catastrophes like terrorist threats are harder to plan for. Additionally, the city lacks jurisdiction over some aspects of emergency planning, like rail transportation, to prevent disasters like the 2013 Lac-Mégantic derailment that killed 47 people, she added.
To learn more about Montreal’s Resilience Strategy, visit: https://resilient.montreal.ca