Projet Montreal says it wants to build a "floating bath" so people can go to the Old Port to swim in the Saint Lawrence River.

Party leader Richard Bergeron presented the idea at a news conference today, saying he’ll introduce a motion to be debated at city hall next month, and will be looking to Europe for inspiration.

The city of Copenhagen opened its first floating bath in 2003, in the "Islands Brygge” harbourfront area, where a wooden platform surrounds an enclosed pool of harbour water, with promenades and platforms for sunbathing and diving.

Islands Brygge

The city of Copenhagen opened it's first floating bath in 2003, in the "Islands Brygge” harbourfront area. (denmark.dk)

"This project would not only be beneficial for the city's population, but has the potential to become a tourist destination, as was the case in Copenhagen, Berlin and Sydney, where they have adopted this type of infrastructure," said Bergeron.

Copenhagen now has five floating baths along its harbour.

“Copenhagen didn’t become the mythical city that everyone talks about without doing things that are a little audacious, a little innovative,” said Bergeron.

Water quality

Members of Projet Montreal say they recognize that many citizens are afraid to swim in the Saint Lawrence River.

"There is an old myth that water around the City of Montreal is polluted or not clean for swimming. It really is an old myth," said Sylvain Ouellet, the party’s spokesman on water-related issues.

The water quality has improved in recent decades, he says, and monitoring is done by the city.

"Montreal is an island, but the citizens have little access to the river for swimming. However, the water quality along the shores of Montreal is good,” said Ouellet.

Bergeron said the water quality in the Saint Lawrence has greatly improved in recent years, and it's now safe for swimming.

He does concede that currents could be dangerous, but says it's time to study the idea to determine a safe spot.

Bergeron said the project could be completed for less than $1 million and it took Copengahen a mere eight months to build its first floating bath.

He said there are about 60 places across the island that could work as potential sites for a floating bath.  

“There’s no reason why we couldn’t be swimming in Montreal’s Old Port by next summer,” said Bergeron.

Projet Montreal says it will present the motion at city hall on August 17.