Montreal

Tired of snow-covered Lachine Canal bike path, Southwest cyclists shovel it themselves

Organizers of the so-called "pellete-in," or "shovel-in," say the bike path along the Lachine Canal, which is managed by Parks Canada, is only maintained between April 15 and Nov. 15.

Vital link connects Verdun, LaSalle, Lachine, downtown Montreal but isn't cleared or maintained in winter

Southwest residents brought their shovels to the snow-covered Lachine Canal bike path to make a point about the need for it to be cleared in the winter. (Charles Contant/CBC)

A group of people in Montreal's Southwest borough picked up their shovels this morning to try and clear a path to better winter cycling conditions.

Organizers of the "pellete-in," or "shovel-in," say the bike path along the Lachine Canal, which is managed by Parks Canada, is only maintained between April 15 and Nov. 15.

They want the federal agency to keep the path open and cleared year-round.

They say it's a vital link, connecting Verdun, LaSalle, Lachine and downtown Montreal.

Southwest borough resident Mokhtar Liamini uses the path during the summer but can't in the winter.

Cyclist Mokhtar Liamini says the Lachine Canal bike path gets dangerous quickly in the winter. (Charles Contant/CBC)
"It's not safe. There's ice on the path, and it becomes unsafe in the first days of winter," he said.

If it was cleared, he would use it more often to go to work and to run errands on weekends, he said.

Money there, deal needed

The borough has earmarked the money to maintain the path and include it in the city's winter cycling network, but it needs Montreal and Parks Canada to come to an agreement on clearing it of snow, which hasn't happened.

Cyclists in the Southwest borough held a demonstration earlier this month calling for the Lachine Canal bike path to be cleared in the winter. (Charles Contant/CBC)

City Coun. Craig Sauvé, who has been pushing to get the path maintained since he was elected in 2013, said Parks Canada is concerned about snow removal equipment damaging the bike path, among other technical issues that need ironing out.

Southwest Borough Mayor Benoît Dorais said in October that the file had been transferred from the city's sports department to its transport department, where it should have been all along.

He said he is optimistic the city and Parks Canada will come to an agreement before the first big snowfall.

with files from Matt d'Amours

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