Part of Lachine Canal path to be accessible year-round after snow-clearing deal reached

A cyclist is seen using the multipurpose path by the Lachine Canal on Friday, Dec. 22, 2020. Brayden Jagger Haines/Global News

Montreal’s Sud-Ouest borough has reached what it describes as a “historic” deal with Parks Canada, in connection with snow removal on the Lachine Canal multipurpose path.

The path, which links the borough of LaSalle to Ville-Marie via the Sud-Ouest, will now be accessible year-round.

In a news release, the Sud-Ouest borough said it will be responsible for clearing a 2.5-km segment of the path on the north side of the canal, between Atwater Avenue and de la Commune Street.

Starting in mid-January, the borough and Parks Canada will share responsibility for the grooming of another 10-kilometre stretch of the path, between Dollard Avenue in the west, to Old Montreal.

Borough Mayor Benoît Dorais said the agreement will allow residents to enjoy the grounds year-round and to remain active in the winter months.

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“This collaboration will not only benefit cyclists, but the entire population, who will be able to take advantage of the grooming to practice various winter activities including fat biking, snowshoeing or simply getting fresh air and walking through this unique historic site,” Dorais said in a written statement.

The announcement was welcomed by cyclists, many of whom have been pushing Parks Canada, the federal agency that owns the land, to clear snow off the path for years.

“The snow removal of a part of the Canal-de-Lachine is certainly great news,” said Martin Hamel, a spokesperson for the Association for Active Mobility of the Lachine Canal (AMACL).

Just a month ago, members of AMACL together with Montreal Active Mobility Coalition (CMAM), held a protest urging action before the onset of winter.

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While both groups agree the deal is a good first step, they’re calling on Parks Canada and the borough to make it a long-term proposition.

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They’re also pushing for snow removal along the entire length of the path to improve accessibility to those who live on the south side of the canal.

“The north side that will be cleared is not easily accessible to those that reside south of the canal,” Hamel said in a news release.

“More than 100,000 residents of Verdun, the Sud-Ouest and Lasalle still do not have safe access to the rest of the city in winter. They must not be forgotten.”

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