'The water is amazing': Montrealers jump into St. Lawrence on hot summer morning

The annual event aims to raise awareness about the protection of Montreal's waterways and to encourage more access to the St. Lawrence River.

Annual Big Splash event aims to draw attention to lack of accessibility to the river

About 100 Montrealers jumped into the St. Lawrence River Tuesday morning as part of the Big Splash event. ( Kate McKenna/CBC)

As the temperature in the city hits 30 C again, some Montrealers may be tempted to jump into the St. Lawrence River to cool off.

That's what about 100 people did on the Jacques-Cartier Pier Tuesday morning, as part of an annual event demanding better access to the water surrounding the island of Montreal and asking to improve the quality of that water.

Wearing life jackets, Montreal residents and politicians alike took the plunge for the 15th edition of the Big Splash.

"The water is amazing. I wish that I could do that more often," said Jonathan Pelland after he got out.

Jonathan Pelland says jumping into the river was a great way to start off a hot day in Montreal. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Lise Jobeille took part for the first time this morning, saying that the warm weather offered the perfect opportunity to finally jump into the river.

Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for the city for the second day in a row.

"I always wanted to do it. It was a dream," she said.

Chantal Rouleau, the provincial minister responsible for Montreal, has been involved with the event since it began.

She said it was a "pleasure" to jump in the river.

The weather is perfect," she said. "And the people are very happy."

The long-awaited Verdun beach opened this year, though concerns remain about the safety of the water. Its quality is tested daily, but after heavy rainfall the beach is closed as a preventive measure.

There are also plans to eventually open a beach in the east-end borough of Rivière-des-Prairies–​Pointe-aux-Trembles, where Rouleau was mayor before being elected to the provincial legislature last fall.

But the borough must complete soil decontamination work before that can happen.

Chantal Rouleau, the provincial minister responsible for Montreal, has been involved with the Big Splash since it started 15 years ago. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

The water at the pier was tested before today's Big Splash, and jumpers were given the go-ahead.

Pelland said he wasn't deterred by concerns over water quality, but he made sure to keep his mouth shut.

"I wouldn't drink it … [but] it's very refreshing," he said.

With reporting by Kate McKenna


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