A proposed Montreal beach site along the St.Lawrence River in Verdun has literally gone to the “birds” and split this once unified community in half.
Local politicians are willing to provide funds to initiate the project and the proposed deal will certainly help clean up parts of the Verdun “Boardwalk”area but there are major concerns that still need to be addressed.
Residents want the beach but cannot seem to agree where it should be located.
The beach is slated to be built behind the Natatorium, a popular swimming pool and recreation area that hosts a number of community activities for residents. In the past few years, a considerable amount of funds have been allocated to revitalize the landscape of this popular waterfront area.
The revitalization project has been hailed as a huge success by residents, Montreal Politicians and local business owners. This fact is solidified by recent population growth in the area.
The beach is the final phase in the project and will certainly seal the deal for local business owners who anticipate that the beach will generate a massive amount of tourist traffic.
Ironically, traffic, is the issue that is creating the biggest obstacle for moving the plan ahead.
In order for the beach to be built a huge amount of parking space will need to be constructed and concerned citizens and environmental activists fear that this will destroy the natural eco-system located directly behind the Natatorium.
The area in question is rich in plant, sea and wild life. It has seen a huge increase in the bird population in recent years as a result of the incorporation of a bird sanctuary and mini hiking trail into its architecture.
The beach sounds like a great deal, but not at the cost of the eco-system claim opposing environmentalists.
Activists and concerned residents have banned together to draft and sign a petition demanding the beach be relocated behind the Auditorium which they feel is a more practical location.
“There is parking on Ethel street, it is a multi level parking site (behind the Reitman’s) just around the corner from the Auditorium itself. De L’eglise metro, being a 5 minute walk just makes sense. This area already has sufficient parking space and won’t destroy the land,” says Lynn Marie O’Connor, a concerned citizen, activist and major backer of the petition.
Excerpt from the original petition: “We believe that the Verdun Natatorium with its ability to facilitate 1150 bathers is already sufficient for this activity. We believe that a beach would destroy the ecology, disturb the tranquillity and would make a nightmare of traffic and parking in the area.”
In a city that already has numerous problems with parking and traffic jams due to construction, some residents are actually welcoming the idea of an additional parking space putting them at odds with local environmentalists.
The residents opposed to the petition say the Auditorium area brings in enough business and the beach front behind the Natatorium will help boost the economy at the other end of the city. They argue that when major events take place at the Auditorium parking for the hospital is already a problem.
It will be interesting to see how the debate will end and whether a few concerned citizens will change the minds of local politicians and developers who have already drafted the plan based on the economics, landscape and architecture in the western part of the city.