We are living in an unprecedented crisis. The pandemic is testing our resilience as well as our ability to intervene on the ground, where the needs are most urgent. It reveals our strengths – numerous, including the exceptional solidarity of Quebecers – but also our weaknesses, as tragically demonstrated by the repercussions of the health and economic crisis on our citizens and on our most vulnerable communities.
We must take care of our world, of those who have lost their jobs, who have temporarily shut down their trade or business, our seniors, who have not deserved to end their days. in anguish and isolation, and of our young people, already worried about the future. We need to find ourselves, to ventilate ourselves, to reweave our links between neighbors and with nature.
The crisis destabilizes us, pushes us to push back our limits and enter unknown territory. It inspires us to be creative, to question ourselves and to imagine ourselves rising stronger, stronger and better equipped to face what the future still holds for us, even as the climate crisis and the growth of inequalities are still part of our landscape. It allows us to imagine a new normal life that is greener, more prosperous and more united.
Responding to the pandemic is the top priority of the municipal world. The crisis creates immense health and public security challenges, economic and social support for the poor. Our front-line social services, our public spaces, such as parks, and municipal facilities, our highways, police and urban planning services are directly involved. It is at the municipal and local level that most of the stimulus measures will be deployed, the reopening of shops and services, large parks, the resumption of public transport and the application of physical distancing measures. It is also at our level that new living and consumption habits will be experienced, such as the resurgence of local agriculture and a return to neighborhood activities, at the community and neighborhood level. This is also where we need to tighten the social safety net – in terms of housing, homelessness and support for our children and the elderly, in particular.
Already, the municipal world has put forward, through its groupings, many proposals likely to allow us to emerge from the crisis which strengthens the major economic, environmental and social consensuses which we have reached in recent years.
These proposals, rooted in the reality of each of the regions of Quebec, must be supported by governments. We must bet on those who live in our areas and highlight the specific territorial features. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as well as the strengthening of our social fabric must systematically be included in our analysis grid for future investments, in particular for the support to our commercial arteries and village cores, the development of collective and active transport, road repair, promotion of local purchasing, renovation of buildings, enhancement of heritage, development of eco-districts, beautification of public spaces, construction and renovation social and affordable housing and access to digital infrastructure. This crisis that we are going through is also a precious opportunity to bet on the sustainable development of our communities.
Quebec is currently trying the first deconfinement measures. We are all working to stabilize our lives and those of our communities. Soon, we will also have to make choices about the follow-up we want to give ourselves, and together create a new normal. The culture of social dialogue is a force and a source of pride in Quebec. We, mayors and mayors of several regions, add our voices to the 15 economic, social, union and environmental leaders who recently wrote to Prime Minister François Legault in order to propose a united, prosperous and green recovery.
This vision, shared by the vast majority of Quebeckers everywhere in Quebec, is also ours.
Let’s work together to make it happen.
* Signatories: Valérie Plante, mayoress of Montreal; Régis Labeaume, mayor of Quebec; Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, Mayor of Gatineau; André Bellavance, mayor of Victoriaville; Vicki-May Hamm, mayor of Magog; Marc-André Plante, mayor of Terrebonne; Caryl Green, Mayor of Chelsea; Charles Breton, mayor of Tadoussac; Geneviève Dubois, mayor of Nicolet; Jérôme Landry, mayor of Matane; Kathy Poulin, mayor of Val-David; Mathieu Lapointe, mayor of Carleton-sur-Mer; Maude Laberge, mayor of Sainte-Martine; Normand Dyotte, mayor of Candiac; Philippe Pagé, mayor of Saint-Camille