The Montreal Gazette Reports: The mayor of Montreal says his constituents will be able to plunge into the St. Lawrence River in the Old Port by the summer of 2017, just in time for the city’s 375th anniversary.
“Like other great North American cities, Montreal only recently became aware of the need to give residents more access to its shorelines,” Denis Coderre said on Friday. “We must step up efforts to correct earlier mistakes of turning our backs to the water.”
Wild Swimming Copenhagen
The creation of a “harbour bath” — similar to those in Sydney, Australia, and Copenhagen — is among a host of initiatives included in an ambitious municipal waterways plan, unveiled on Friday morning at city hall. In addition to the harbour bath installation — near the Old Port clock tower — which will be fed directly from the river, but cordoned off by barriers to prevent swimmers from being swept out, the city is planning to open a stretch of swimmable shoreline in Verdun within the next two years. An “Eastern Beach,” in Rivière-des-Prairies—Pointe-aux-Trembles, is also scheduled to open by summer 2017, and is set to include a chalet, a promenade and water sports facilities. Smaller-scale upgrades and program subsidies across the island in the coming years will help encourage paddling, diving, surfing and other water sports, Coderre said.
“Some of the projects are more advanced than others, but they are all moving forward.”
The upgrading of existing water-treatment infrastructure is also part of the waterways plan, Coderre added, and will help improve water quality to permit safe swimming and other recreational activities. The city is particularly concerned with the existing combined sewer pipes, which collect and transport a mixture of both sanitary waste water and storm run-off in a single stream. When the system gets overloaded, during a storm or spring melt for example, some waste water can end up in the river rather than at a treatment plant, a problem the mayor said will be corrected to the tune of $800,000.
Each of the beach projects is expected to cost several million dollars, but a total dollar amount for the entire series of waterway initiatives has yet to be determined.
Opposition Projet Montréal councillor Sylvain Ouellet called the plan “very good news.” He cautioned, however, that opening three swimming areas by 2017 might be overly ambitious.
But according to executive-committee member and R.D.P.-P.A.T. mayor Chantal Rouleau, it’s all a question of priorities. The harbour bath could be ready by next summer, she predicted, if things unfold smoothly.
“We are working enthusiastically with the Old Port of Montreal, and a pilot committee is already in place to help move this project along quickly and launch a first study to determine the concept and technical aspects.” More…