FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Montreal, March 15, 2021 – On February 18, 2021, the Minister of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, Mr. Benoit Charette, made public the composition of the new Water Action Forum. Remember that this new instance was created to replace the Quebec Water Council announced by the Liberal government in 2018, a committee on which the Fondation Rivières was invited to sit as a citizen organization. Now that the citizen voice no longer has its place within the Water Action Forum, the Fondation Rivières is launching a first challenge to all the members of the committee who will meet for the first time on Tuesday March 16, 2021:
“Ensure that green infrastructure works are fully recognized and financed”
All water management experts agree on the importance of investing in green infrastructure to better manage stormwater. These infrastructures constitute a leading solution to the approximately 60,000 annual spills of untreated wastewater in Quebec, while allowing, among other things, to avoid pollution carried to waterways by contaminated rainwater and to recharge the water table. Green infrastructures can be built using proven techniques which are also carefully described in the Stormwater Management Guide produced 10 years ago by the Ministry of the Environment.
However, the three main government funding tools for such infrastructure do not recognize this type of project. The permitted work only targets usual constructions (sewers, aqueduct, treatment systems), both for the program Excise tax on gasoline and Quebec contribution (TECQ) with an envelope of 3.4 G$, that the Municipal Water Infrastructure Fund (FIMEAU) with 1.5 G$ and that the Municipal water infrastructure program (PRIMEAU) with 773 M$. Municipalities are therefore deprived of funding to make the best choices to improve the management of their stormwater. Remember that the intensity of rain events increases with climate change. However, green infrastructure is proven and recognized, just as much as traditional approaches.
These shortcomings were addressed in December 2020 to Ms. Catherine McKenna, Minister responsible for Infrastructure and Communities in the federal government for green infrastructure, since the federal government is now the main financial contributor to infrastructure work. During the announcement of 280 projects selected in the FIMEAU grant program on August 20, 2020, Ms. McKenna referred extensively to the concept of green infrastructure while none of the projects selected included such developments. In as a response, the minister essentially recalled that “ Quebec is responsible for submitting projects that fit with the aforementioned benefits in light of its needs and the priorities set out in particular in the Quebec Infrastructure Plan. ».
The Fondation Rivières therefore called on the Quebec Ministers of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MAMH) of Quebec, Ms. Andrée Laforest and the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (MELCC), Mr. Benoit Charette, so that the rules can be changed to immediately fully recognize green infrastructure. It is also engineers and other specialist professionals from these two ministries who produced the design guide for the works and the same ministries which finance the organizations to promote it!
The president of Fondation Rivières, Mr. Alain Saladzius, indicates that “ our request to Quebec ministers does not require any budgetary addition. It is simply a matter of immediately allowing the construction of green infrastructure, as well as the installation of storm sewer pipes, in the TECQ 2019-2023 and FIMEAU 2022 programming. In the absence of having obtained a response from the ministers to our letters, we submit the file to each member of the Water Action Forum so that the file can finally be resolved. We are convinced that representatives of the municipal world, the environment and scientists will pay all the necessary attention to this issue, and that finally municipalities will no longer have to rule out better choices, for the benefit of all. ".
About Fondation Rivières
Since its creation on November 26, 2002, Fondation Rivières has seen to the preservation, restoration and enhancement of the natural and ecological character of rivers, as well as the quality of the water. This mission is environmental, but also social and educational.
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Photo: Gilles Croteau