Climate change challenges will be 'immense': Quebec mayors demand change from province

Mayors from several Quebec municipalities are calling for a province-wide effort to address “immense” incoming challenges caused by climate change.

“In the years to come, we already know that Quebec municipalities will have to invest billions of dollars to deal with the climate crisis,” read an open letter published in La Presse.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante was one of several co-signers, including mayors of Quebec City, Gatineau, Victoriaville, Sainte-Martine, Val-David, Saint-Camille, Terrebonne, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, and Chelsea.

“A concerted effort,” is required across the province in order to reduce emissions and ecosystem damage – something they write is “no easy task.”

However, read the letter, “Natures and the upheavals that shake it do not care about our administrative limits.”

“The pandemic has shown us that well over the past year and a half.”

The effects of climate change can already be felt in Quebec, most recently as scorching, repeated summer heatwaves and poor air quality due to forest fires expected to intensify in coming years.

In August, the United Nations declared a climate “code red,” demanding substantial government shifts to reduce emissions, with significant, irreversible damage already done.

Policy change is on the way in Quebec, but what that change will look like remains to be seen.

Consultations are underway towards an expected overhaul of land use laws in Quebec.

The plan is expected to affect, among other areas, urban expansion rules -- which have “changed little over the past 40 years,” according to the province.

“Let us think about the pandemic, the new climatic realities,” said Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Andrée Laforest in a recent press release.

The mayors say, whatever ends up in the new action plan, incentives in the form of “eco-taxes” will need to be substantial.

“It will be necessary to be bold and reward the good players.”

Web consultations will continue until Sept. 17. The province will then meet with First Nations and Inuit residents specifically, with the strategy expected to be published in spring, 2022.

UNITED CITIES

It’s the second time mayors banded together to demand change from lawmakers this week.

On Tuesday, leaders of Quebec’s five largest municipalities demanded “clear and firm” gun control plans from federal leaders.

Read more: Quebec mayors band together to demand 'clear and firm' gun control from federal leaders

In its list of demands, Montreal called for a country-wide ban on the private possession of handguns and assault weapons in order to tackle “the source” of the rise in gun violence in the city.

As of Thursday, the city had reported 18 homicides so far in 2021, as gun crime rises across the country.

According to Statistics Canada, the number of such offenses rose from 3,544 in 2019 to 4,137 in 2020, up 15 per cent in the sixth consecutive annual increase.

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