Verdun beach finally set to open
Almost five years after the project was first proposed, Verdun beach is set to open in less than two weeks.
The site, behind Arthur-Therrien Park and the Verdun Auditorium, is still under major construction, with tractors and work crews all over it.
The borough insists it will open on time. When it’s done, the beach will have a playground, access for wheelchairs to enter the water, a hammock and a book-borrowing station.
“The project is not to make a beach club,” said Verdun Mayor Jean-François Parenteau.
“It was important to reconnect people with the Saint Lawrence River.”
The idea of creating a beach in Verdun was first brought up by borough councillors five years ago.
The project was delayed several times because of environmental and regulatory hurdles.
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The beach is estimated to cost about $5 million — the borough received just over $1 million in funding from Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations. It also got money from the Quebec government.
The borough says the the price tag is worth it because it will bring more people to the water.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to reconnect with nature because Montreal is an island,” Parenteau said.
Parenteau says the beach will be the first of its kind on the Saint Lawrence River in Montreal. He says he hopes other municipalities will follow Verdun’s lead and build their own beaches.
However, some residents worry it will prove too popular.
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“There are other ways to make people appreciate nature and the natural beauty of the area without turning it into a circus, which is what we are concerned about,” said Karen, a Verdun resident.
The question of water quality is also on residents’ minds. The borough insists the water is safe for swimming, but it plans on testing it regularly.
If it falls below acceptable standards, it will close the beach.
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“The problem with urban beaches in Montreal is they get polluted very fast during rain events,” said environmentalist Daniel Green, with the Green Party of Canada.
“So, while I applaud Verdun having a beach, Verdun has to put into place a system of water testing to get people out of the water quickly.”
The borough insists it can get swimmers out within one hour, but their system hasn’t been tested yet.
The beach is officially set to open on June 22.
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