06/05/2013 07:53 EDT | Updated 08/05/2013 05:12 EDT

Quebec City mayor gets hostile reception from flood victims

Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume got a frosty reception Wednesday from flood victims in Ancienne-Lorette, who accused him of not doing enough to prevent the flooding of the Lorette River — despite four studies documenting the recurrent problem.

"You love your damned coliseum more than flood victims," one resident yelled at him.

As many as 60 millimetres of rain fell over a short period overnight Friday, causing the Lorette and Nelson Rivers in the Quebec City suburb of Ancienne-Lorette to overflow and flood dozens of basements.

Accompanied by Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet on Wednesday afternoon, Labeaume promised the city will invest $55 million in flood rehabilitation work, including constructing a second dam and a reservoir, installing two more pumping stations and raising the banks of the Lorette river.

At this time next year, Labeaume promised, the work will be underway to widen the riverbed.

He says the work is expected to be completed by 2016 — three years earlier than planned — after Blanchet promised to fast-track the plan, permitting the city to forego environmental protection hearings.

'You would have shot me,' protests Labeaume

Earlier today, Labeaume defended himself for not having visited the enclave just northwest of Quebec City last weekend, when dozens of homes were inundated.

He said a visit during the crisis would have been an empty political gesture.

"You would have shot me," he told residents. "I was working, and I was aware of what was going on."