Bathing in a lake or a river provides immense pleasure. The water is deliciously fresh, soft, you can swim without hindrance, you have a different point of view on the shore, where a turtle or a duck can hide.
In Montreal, this happiness is not very accessible at the present time. But it could become: there would be 57 places around the island that would be suitable for swimming due to very good water quality.
“But it’s on the basis of water quality alone,” says Sophie Lachance, communications and mobilization manager at the Rivières Foundation. “We didn’t analyze the current or the entry to the water to see if it was safe. »
The Rivières Foundation studied data collected by the Aquatic Environment Monitoring Network at 115 locations around Montreal. The foundation determined that almost half of the sites, or 57, were suitable for swimming in dry weather. Due to sewage overflows, only 25 locations would allow swimming in wet weather.
Montrealers can take comfort: in Laval, only one place is suitable for swimming in dry weather (marina at Laval-sur-le-Lac), and none in rainy weather.
Currently, there are three places to swim in Montreal: Parc-nature du Cap–Saint-Jacques, Parc-nature du Bois-de-l’Île-Bizard, and Verdun beach.
“The problem is that these three places are all in the west of Montreal, notes Ms. Lachance. However, on the island of Montreal, the West, it is where it is the least hot. It shows that there is a certain contradiction. There is really a need in the east end of Montreal. »
There are projects in the sights, with excellent water quality. Swimming could in particular be possible from 2024 at the Bellerive promenade, in Tétreaultville.
“We have already done analyzes on the intensity, direction and speed of the currents, we have checked whether there are toxic elements on the shore or in the coastline, the topography of the seabed has already been analysed”, lists Pierre Lessard-Blais, mayor of the borough of Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.
There is still an analysis to be done to verify if this is a feeding area for the copper redhorse, an endangered species of fish.
The project will not cost a fortune because the infrastructure will be kept to a minimum.
“The local residents want the intervention not to alter the nature of the park and that’s why we don’t arrive with big trucks of sand,” says Mr. Lessard-Blais. We will keep the existing pebble beach, we will define an authorized swimming area with lifeguards. We are installing an ecological toilet, we will have an access ramp, furniture for relaxing on the beach and a free play and picnic area.
A swimming project at the Lachine waterfront park is also progressing. It aims to replace a marina that served a limited number of boaters. Already, you can rent kayaks and paddle boards.
“For swimming, it’s still quite a steep place and you can’t have a beach there,” says Vicki Grondin, elected city councilor in the borough of Lachine. The idea would be to have floating docks or a sort of harbor bath. So it’s a matter of planning. »
After environmental impact studies, plans and specifications, the construction of the project could begin around 2026.
“The schedule is respected, there is a real desire on the part of the major parks and the borough to introduce swimming at this site, but we have to make sure that we do things correctly. »
The dynamism of the people of Lachine has not escaped surfing enthusiasts, who need new places to practice their passion. The current locations, La Vague à Guy and Habitat 67, are victims of their own success.
“There are very long queues, several dozen people waiting to surf for just 30 seconds,” says Mathieu Demers, president of Surf Greater Montreal.
The organization has begun collecting data on potential locations, such as the end of René-Lévesque Park, across from the future Lachine Riverfront Park. There is a good drop there, but it remains to be seen if the flow is sufficient to create a wave (by installing a module under water).
It will be necessary to do a feasibility study, environmental impact studies, a market study, plans and specifications.
“We are talking about several years, believes Mr. Demers. But we are working hard on it, it motivates a lot of people. »
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