04/24/2019 16:57 EDT | Updated 04/24/2019 17:11 EDT

Trudeau: Flooding, Extreme Weather Due To Climate Change The ‘New Reality’

The prime minister visited a flood evacuation centre in Gatineau, Que.

Adrian Wyld/CP
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau helps members of the Canadian Forces fill sandbags on April 24, 2019 in Gatineau, Que.

GATINEAU, Que. — Cities across Canada will experience more frequent flooding because of climate change and governments need to adapt to this new reality, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.

Trudeau made the comments during a visit to an evacuation centre in the city of Gatineau, one of the areas of Quebec hardest hit by floods after the Ottawa River burst its banks.

He said as a consequence of climate change, "we're going to see more and more of these extreme weather events more regularly. It means we have to think about adaptation, mitigation and how we are going to move forward together."

Watch: Trudeau visits Gatineau, Que. amid flooding

Quebec's Public Security Department said as of 2 p.m. Wednesday, about 1,900 homes across the province were flooded and 515 people have been forced from their homes.

Authorities said rain forecast over the coming days and melting snow could further raise the water levels in the region between Gatineau and Montreal.

Climate experts say volatile winter weather increases the risk of ice accumulating on rivers, which can cause flooding when the ice begins to move as the temperature warms.

Will Amos, the Liberal MP for the Gatineau area, accompanied the prime minister and said his riding suffered some of the worst flooding damage in 2017. His region was hit by a tornado last fall and a woman recently died after a road was washed out due to floodwaters.

'Yes, climate change is real': Liberal MP

Amos said these events demonstrate a national discussion is needed on how to deal with rural climate-related events.

"Rural communities continue to be challenged in their response to climate-related disasters, whether it is floods, fire, or otherwise,'' he said. "Yes, climate change is real. Yes, it is wreaking havoc on our infrastructure. Yes, it is having a human impact, particularly in rural Canada where municipal councils don't have large staff. The municipalities I represent often have one engineer."

Greg Fergus, another local Liberal MP, said "these once-in-a-century type of events are now happening every couple of years. We need to really start taking into account, into all our planning, what climate change is about."

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