Once 'impossible,' Quebec's $5M brings east end beach dream one step closer

Pointe-aux-Trembles MNA Chantal Rouleau, who also serves as the minister responsible for the greater Montreal region, began pushing to build a beach the shores of the St. Lawrence River in 2013, when she was still a mayor in the area.

Provincial funds will help decontaminate site, which is slated to open in 2022

Although the site, located in Montreal's east end, is still covered in ice and snow, officials in the area see the planned beach project as an exciting development. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

Quebec is providing Montreal with $5 million to help fund the decontamination of an old marina site slated to be a beach in the city's east end.

The beach, which already has a Google listing as "Plage de l'est," is expected to open in Pointe-aux-Trembles by 2022.

Pointe-aux-Trembles MNA Chantal Rouleau, who also serves as the minister responsible for greater Montreal region, began pursuing the project to put a beach on the shore of the St. Lawrence River in 2013, when she was still mayor of the borough of Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles.

Chantal Rouleau, elected to the National Assembly in 2018, has been working on the beach project since 2013. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

"It was a bit of a dream," she said. "It was something that was said to be impossible, a word I do not like."

The east end beach will be built in a residential area near the intersections of 94e Avenue and Bureau Street, looking out toward the sparsely developed Asperges Island.

"We are in the process of realizing this dream," she said.

The project, which has faced several delays, is part of the city's effort to revitalize the east end. Quebec's financial assistance will allow the city to restore the contaminated site, a necessary step, officials say, in bringing the project to life.

Environment Minister Benoit Charette said he supports the "transformation of the unusable land into a new green space in an urban area."

This rendering shows what the beach project on the site of an old Pointe-aux-Trembles marina could look like, though officials are planning a swimming area as well. (Submitted by Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles)

The beach has been under discussion for some time, but first a river canal had to be moved in 2014 because it was sending fecal matter to the future beach site.

Then, in 2017, the borough discovered that many pollutants, including paint residues, were present in the soil of the future beach, which delayed the work.

'Beautiful and enjoyable,' says environment minister

Charrette said officials will "make sure this beautiful project will be enjoyable for the population."

Mayor Valérie Plante said this step has brought the city closer to the development of "a resort that will enhance the quality of life in the neighbourhood."

She said she wanted to provide "continuous access to the banks of the river and the Rivière des Prairies" to Montrealers.

While it will be a few years before swimmers are allowed to jump in, the city plans to build a jetty for water activities with canoes and kayaks in 2021.

Verdun beach opening this summer

A beach planned for Montreal's Verdun borough has also faced delays as officials work there to bring the project to life, revitalizing the waterfront for land and river use. That beach is slated to open this summer.

In that case, the shoreline will be accessible to people in wheelchairs, with paths woven through a grassy, landscaped space where visitors can relax and gaze at the water.

There will be slides integrated into the slope down to the river and a sandy beach for swimming and lounging.


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