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City of Montreal unveils plans to encourage outdoor sports and local shopping

Snow covers the streets of Montreal after a winter storm, Weds., Feb. 13, 2019. Rachel Lau/Global News

Mayor Valerie Plante has unveiled the city’s winter plans to encourage Montrealers to shop locally and to get outside and exercise during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

For starters, the city is planning on opening up 25 winter “stations” in 17 boroughs. They will be equipped with outdoor street furniture and coloured lighting designed to brighten up public squares, parking lots and vacant spaces. The stations will be based near shopping centres to encourage people to visit and shop locally. The stations have a budget of $600,000, and are part of the $6 million city assistance holiday plan, already announced.

Read more: Montreal public health says ‘less is more’ for holiday gatherings as COVID-19 crisis continues

“We worked with artists, designers — it will be a very cool and unique experience,” said Plante. “It encourages people to go and shop local, because this year we should encourage more than ever our local businesses. They need us to survive, not the online companies.”

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Plante said while indoor organized sport is not available this winter, she wants to encourage Montrealers to get outside and exercise in the city’s 20 large outdoor parks. She said all the city’s major parks will be offering outdoor activities, including snowshoeing, cross country skiing and skating. Fat biking will be offered in the Anse-à-l’Orme, Cap Saint-Jacques and Pointe-aux-Prairies parks.

Read more: Old Montreal tourist, souvenir shops struggling to stay afloat amid COVID-19 pandemic

She said with the annual Fete des Neiges cancelled this year on Parc Jean-Drapeau due to COVID-19, outdoor activities will be offered there, including skating and cross country skiing.

“We will have an interesting program there that is available all winter.”

She said for the first time people will be able to go online to reserve equipment and spots to participate in outdoor activities.

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‘Go to the internet site of the City of Montreal and choose the activity you want to do,” she said. “If you want to do snowshoeing, it will tell you where you can do it and how to do it, online.”

The city also announced it is offering free rental equipment for snowshoeing and cross country skiing to children under 18.

“I want our teenagers and young adults to also enjoy the outdoors,” she said.  “We want to make it easy for everyone – small, medium and big ones – to enjoy the winter.”