Montréal's Resilient City Strategy

Successfully applying to an initiative funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, Montreal became the first Canadian city to embrace the ‘100 Resilient Cities’ program, increasing its resilience to all manner of hazards, particularly extreme weather. The City of Montreal has been impacted by several major weather events in the last few decades, from the 1998 Ice Storm, to flooding in 2017, to a major heatwave in 2018. Montreal’s Resilient City Strategy, an outcome of its participation in the 100 Resilient Cities program, aims to address all of these hazards and more by improving governance, environmental protection, the economy, and social bonds.

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

This program does not seek to address one issue, but rather to build societal and operational resilience at all levels, so as to provide a broad-spectrum resilience to a wide number of potential hazards. The City of Montreal itself has experienced major ice storms, flooding, and heat waves in the past several decades, and remains at risk from all three. In broad strokes, the plan emphasizes the need for a stringent cost-benefit approach to mitigation measures, further investment in business and operational continuity, and reducing the vulnerability of the population by various means.

Identifying Actions

The project began in 2013 when the Rockefeller Foundation, a charitable organization, put forth funding for the Resilient Cities program designed to increase the resilience of cities around the world to disaster. Montreal was one of over 300 applicants for the funding and was inducted as the first Canadian city in the program the following year. The city used the awarded funds to create an Office of Resilience (Bureau de la Resilience) and hire a Chief Resilience Officer. The creation of Montréal’s Resilient City Strategy took several years. Given that the project was so broad in scope collaboration with internal and external stakeholders was necessary in order to address the multifaceted nature of resilience; in total, more than 100 such stakeholders were consulted with. Additionally there was ‘extensive’ citizen consultation on the matter. Another essential component of the planning process was the consultation and collaboration with other cities around world who were also participating in the 100 Resilient Cities program. Many of these cities were facing similar issues as Montreal and were able to provide a unique and valuable perspective and offer solutions.

Implementation

Following collaboration with citizens, internal and external stakeholders, and other cities around the world involved in the Resilient Cities program, the City of Montreal published its Resilient City Strategy in 2018. The Strategy is a five-year plan designed to invest in concrete actions that will increase the city’s resilience to extreme weather and other types of hazards. There are four primary objectives involved in this work: to support a united and safe community, to protect the living environment, to maintain a diversified and innovative economy, and to promote integrated governance in the service of the community. With regard specifically to countering extreme weather, the report highlighted the following actions: fostering the development of social capital among Montrealers, improving the consideration of risks in land use and infrastructure planning, carrying out more exhaustive cost-benefit analysis of mitigation measures, and promoting a good state of preparedness to deal with disturbances.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

Urban Resilience Indicators are in development to monitor progress in the upcoming years. Among outcomes, the city support the Réseau résilience aînés Montréal (Federal grant of 3M$ for the inclusion and resilience of elderly citizens of Montréal). The city is also supporting the development of resilience hubs in its boroughs and social capital measurement and building in the COVID-19 context and beyond.

Next Steps

A mid-term report of the resilience action plan will be presented in 2021. The report will present outcomes, monitoring progress and new actions planed in the COVID-19 and Climate Emergency context.

Resources


Understanding and Assessing Impacts

This program does not seek to address one issue, but rather to build societal and operational resilience at all levels, so as to provide a broad-spectrum resilience to a wide number of potential hazards. The City of Montreal itself has experienced major ice storms, flooding, and heat waves in the past several decades, and remains at risk from all three. In broad strokes, the plan emphasizes the need for a stringent cost-benefit approach to mitigation measures, further investment in business and operational continuity, and reducing the vulnerability of the population by various means.

Identifying Actions

The project began in 2013 when the Rockefeller Foundation, a charitable organization, put forth funding for the Resilient Cities program designed to increase the resilience of cities around the world to disaster. Montreal was one of over 300 applicants for the funding and was inducted as the first Canadian city in the program the following year. The city used the awarded funds to create an Office of Resilience (Bureau de la Resilience) and hire a Chief Resilience Officer. The creation of Montréal’s Resilient City Strategy took several years. Given that the project was so broad in scope collaboration with internal and external stakeholders was necessary in order to address the multifaceted nature of resilience; in total, more than 100 such stakeholders were consulted with. Additionally there was ‘extensive’ citizen consultation on the matter. Another essential component of the planning process was the consultation and collaboration with other cities around world who were also participating in the 100 Resilient Cities program. Many of these cities were facing similar issues as Montreal and were able to provide a unique and valuable perspective and offer solutions.

Implementation

Following collaboration with citizens, internal and external stakeholders, and other cities around the world involved in the Resilient Cities program, the City of Montreal published its Resilient City Strategy in 2018. The Strategy is a five-year plan designed to invest in concrete actions that will increase the city’s resilience to extreme weather and other types of hazards. There are four primary objectives involved in this work: to support a united and safe community, to protect the living environment, to maintain a diversified and innovative economy, and to promote integrated governance in the service of the community. With regard specifically to countering extreme weather, the report highlighted the following actions: fostering the development of social capital among Montrealers, improving the consideration of risks in land use and infrastructure planning, carrying out more exhaustive cost-benefit analysis of mitigation measures, and promoting a good state of preparedness to deal with disturbances.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

Urban Resilience Indicators are in development to monitor progress in the upcoming years. Among outcomes, the city support the Réseau résilience aînés Montréal (Federal grant of 3M$ for the inclusion and resilience of elderly citizens of Montréal). The city is also supporting the development of resilience hubs in its boroughs and social capital measurement and building in the COVID-19 context and beyond.

Next Steps

A mid-term report of the resilience action plan will be presented in 2021. The report will present outcomes, monitoring progress and new actions planed in the COVID-19 and Climate Emergency context.

Resources