New association hopes to pressure Parks Canada for better Lachine Canal access

A group of frustrated four-season cyclists formed a new association Wednesday night to press Parks Canada for better access to the Lachine Canal.

Group's first meeting took place Wednesday night

Mathieu Murphy-Perron is one of the founders of the new advocacy group. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

A group of frustrated four-season cyclists formed a new association Wednesday night to press Parks Canada for better access to the Lachine Canal.

The group met at Café Ma Bicyclette to come up with a mandate and a name — The Association for Active Mobility of the Lachine Canal.

One of its founders, Mathieu Murphy-Perron, said the group will work to ensure the Lachine Canal is accessible year-round to pedestrians, cyclists and other users.

"There's a growing number of four-season cyclists in Montreal," Murphy-Perron said.

He hopes that an association will be taken more seriously by Parks Canada than individual voices have been.

The association wants Parks Canada, which owns the path by the canal, to also be more engaged with the community.

He said they are struggling to use the path because of uncleared leaves and because in the winter, only a small section is cleared of snow as part of a pilot project.

Murphy-Perron said the Southwest borough and members of Montreal's executive committee are open to funding snow clearing on the Lachine Canal but that Parks Canada isn't engaging in talks about it.

Southwest borough councillor Alain Vaillancourt attended the meeting as an observer and said he thought the group's demands were "very reasonable."
The association's first meeting took place at a bike shop cafe near the Atwater Market. (Antoni Nerestant/CBC)

"I'm really happy that they're forming an organization to formalize their demands about the canal," he said.

Murphy-Perron said the group also wants to be involved in discussing major construction work with Parks Canada — like instances where both the north and south side of the canal's bike paths are closed at the same time.

Lauren Small, the superintendent of the Lachine Canal for Parks Canada, said the path is kept open from April 15 to November 15.

"In terms of the detours, we try to make sure the [signage] is in place," she told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

She said that the Parks Canada website always has the information path users need.

That's not enough for members of the group, however.

One of the group's members, Daniel Lambert, said it's a shame the path closes "despite the policy of the city of Montreal to try to keep its bicycle paths open year-round."

He said cyclists who rely on the path to get to school or work "are left high and dry for the winter."

The Lachine Canal bike path is one of the only dedicated car-free paths in the city.

With files from Antoni Nerestant and CBC Montreal's Daybreak​