The Story of the Climate Adapted City

By 2040 Montréal has become a climate-adapted city. The city built its resiliency to severe weather events and increased instances of ice storms by incorporating an array of sustainability features: underground water storage systems (for use in times of drought), xeriscaping, green roofs, on-site water treatment for collected precipitation, rainwater harvesting, on-site water retention, etc. Many of these sustainability features also provide habitat for plants and animals. These urban resiliency strategies were created through leadership and by obtaining citizen buy-in, by offering information and incentives for techniques. By 2040 Montréal is surrounded by a robust natural biodiversity perimeter that is commonly used for recreation and provides key environmental services e.g. absorption and treatment of water from storm events, improved air quality, etc. Montréal has experienced an increase in its population and thus an increase in demand for infrastructure services and food. In an effort to build local food and energy security Montréal introduced a number of initiatives in 2020 promoting alternative energies, community gardens and hydroponic food greenhouses.

The Story of Dilapidated Infrastructure

In this story, in 2040, there are widespread cuts in government spending (including infrastructure and public health) resulting in a decline of services. There are high rates of water loss, the quality of potable water has declined and there are increasing hospitalizations due to water quality issues, further stressing the healthcare system. Montréalers have lost faith in their water supply and those that can, rely on bottled water. Individuals are responding to this water situation by seeking opportunities for new entrepreneurial ventures to reduce reliance on municipal infrastructure (e.g., rainwater collection). This new reality has resulted in protest sand social unrest around the human right to water.

Declining wastewater infrastructure is releasing large volumes of untreated effluent to the St Lawrence River, resulting in negative changes to the river system and a decline in recreational use. Since 2020 there have been a number of significant infrastructure failures: in 2030 the McTavish reservoir flooded the downtown causing chaos, building damage and distrust. In 2035 the banks of the Lachine Canal broke (spreading contaminants and sediment). Frequent sewer line breaks and other leaking infrastructures resulted in sidewalks and roads caving-in, resulting in: road closures, loss of business, increased congestion and buildings being condemned and abandoned – which further harms the city as a tourist attraction. The city is viewed as dangerous – people and industries are leaving Montréal.

The Story of Densification

In the Story of Densification by 2040 Montréal is experiencing significant densification, a significant contrast to the sprawl mentality of 2014. As a result, the city undergoes considerable gentrification and new high-rise building to foster densification. These trends have resulted in the displacement of the less affluent since they are unable to pay the high rents. Densification has also resulted in a nosier city, darker streets (because of shadows from tall buildings), a loss of green spaces and water/wastewater infrastructure is overwhelmed. The lack of community gathering places has increased feelings of loneliness, agitation and isolation for many Montréalers.

While this denser city has resulted in challenges it also presents opportunities. Since densification also creates more of a tax base to contribute revenue for infrastructure renewal and social programs. Communities are working with local government to develop urban planning solutions for new developments and retrofits to mitigate negative growth and encourage resilient and cohesive communities (e.g. green roofs to reduce excessive storm water runoff; adoption of greywater recycling, using waterways as vibrant recreational spaces, etc.).


Canadian Water Network
RBC Blue Water