Part of Lachine Canal bike path to be cleared for cyclists this winter

·2 min read

After more than a decade of negotiations, cyclists will be able to bike along part of the Lachine Canal this winter.

As part of an agreement between Montreal's Sud-Ouest borough and Parks Canada, 2.5 kilometres of the bike path on the north side of the canal, running from Atwater Avenue to De la Commune Street, will be cleared of snow as of January.

On the other side of the canal, 10 kilometres of the bike path running from Dollard Avenue to Old Montreal will be tamped down as a multi-purpose path for winter activities.

"You can walk on it, run, do winter activities all along the south side of the path," said Sud-Ouest Borough Councillor Alain Vaillancourt.

Over the past three years, the borough had been clearing snow from a 750-metre stretch along the canal as part of a pilot project. Vaillancourt hopes to see more of it cleared in the future, but says this agreement is a good compromise for now.

"We've been fighting for the last 10 years to get the snow cleared for cyclists all along the path," said Vaillancourt.

"I won't say it's a huge victory but it's a huge relief that everyone is working together in the right direction."

Charles Contant/Radio-Canada
Charles Contant/Radio-Canada

Product of years of lobbying

Over the years, several residents and citizen groups have called for the path to be made useable in winter. It was one of the main reasons Montreal resident Mathieu Murphy-Perron co-founded the Association for Active Mobility of the Lachine Canal back in 2018.

"It's historic and I honestly didn't see it coming. We've been calling for it for years and it has been consistently rejected by the folks at Parks Canada," said Perron.

Still, he wished Parks Canada had consulted with residents more before reaching the agreement, and said the stretch to be cleared this winter isn't nearly enough.

"You also have to remember the people on the south side. There's almost 100,000 residents in Verdun, the southern part of the Sud-Ouest, Pointe-Sainte-Charles, LaSalle who are literally land-locked by the canal," Perron said.

Chloë Ranaldi/CBC
Chloë Ranaldi/CBC

"Having a route where you can travel several kilometres from borough to borough without having to worry about sharing the road with motorists, who sometimes are a little impatient, sometimes a little aggressive, it's a game changer."

In a statement, Parks Canada said it had "long wished" to clear the path in winter.

"We are confident that this proposal will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts and enhance opportunities for outdoor experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic," the statement said.

The agreement will be in effect for this winter only.