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#Elxn42: John Abbott College students pack hall to hear from federal candidates

WATCH ABOVE: The three Lac-Saint-Louis federal candidates were in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue for a question-answer period with students and staff at John Abbott College. As Global's Tim Sargeant reports, they discussed both national and local issues, including the Sainte-Anne locks.

SAINTE-ANNE-DE-BELLEVUE – Dozens of students packed the Agora at John Abbott College for a chance to ask questions to the federal candidates running in the Lac-Saint-Louis riding.

Liberal candidate Francis Scarpaleggia is the incumbent hoping to get re-elected for a fifth term.

NDP candidate Ryan Young and Conservative candidate Éric Girard are challenging Scarpaleggia in the Liberal stronghold.

National issues dominated the Q and A period but closer to home, the mayor of Sainte-Anne’s is raising questions about the condition of the locks and adjacent grounds.

Paola Hawa told Global News on Monday that the property, owned by Parks Canada, is in need of a major overhaul.

Hawa said crumbling walls need to be repaired, dated picnic tables replaced and the entire area needs a major facelift.

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Last August, the federal government announced $4 million will be spent to improve the locks, but it’s unclear where specifically the money will go.

Young, who is also a Sainte-Anne’s councillor admitted more needs to be done.

“I live in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, I’ve grown up in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and, yes the locks are in bad state and they need desperate work,” Young told Global News.

Scarpaleggia promised a Liberal government will spend billions of dollars on infrastructure improvements across the county and expects some of that money to be filtered down to the locks.

“Every now and then you need to spruce it up a bit. It’s just like owning a house. Every now and then you gotta make some kind of renovation,” he told Global News.

Conservative candidate Girard, who is running for office for the first time, said it’s a file he will look into if elected.

“I can only make a difference if I’m elected and I think we’re already committing $4 million so that’s quite a substantial investment,” Girard told Global News.

The locks opened in 1882 at their current location in Sainte-Anne’s and are the busiest in Canada.

More than 16,000 recreational boats pass through every year.

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