Montreal boaters say closure of Lachine Marina leaves them without a place to dock

The city says closing the marina will make way for a greener, more accessible waterfront park.

City is using land to create a waterfront park when boating season ends

The City of Montreal announced July 8 it would be replacing the Lachine Marina with a new waterfront park (illustration seen here), that would allow for more accessible aquatic activities such as kayaking, canoeing and possibly swimming. (City of Montreal)

With the Lachine Marina set to close to make way for a waterfront park, some Montreal boat owners say they are losing a beloved gathering place used by hundreds of families.

Josée Côté, a member of the association representing boat owners at the marina, is upset the city did not consult the 450 people who currently dock their boats there before making the decision. 

"It was a shock for everybody, especially for longtime boat owners. They were devastated," Côté told CBC Montreal's Daybreak Friday morning. 

The City of Montreal announced earlier this month that it will close the marina for good once the 2020 season has ended, in order to make space for the $20-million park. 

In a release July 8, the city said the new waterfront would be accessible to more members of the general public and is also part of the city's commitment to developing greener spaces. 

"It would destroy a close community that would be forced to leave Montreal behind to enjoy their preferred nautical activity," Côté said.

'We can share the space'

The new park is expected to provide access to various water activities including kayaking, canoeing and possibly swimming — if the water quality allows for it. 

But Côté believes that developing the new park does not necessarily have to mean closing the marina. She thinks the two would be able to coexist, and says boat owners are ready to compromise if the city will listen. 

"We only use a little part of this access to water," said Côté. "We can share the space with everybody."

Charles Hauss, president of Aviron Lachine — a Lachine boating club — says the land currently used by the marina is too narrow for that to work. 

Hauss was excited when he heard the city's announcement, as it would mean more people would be able to access the water. 

Charles Hauss says the new waterfront park will allow a greater number of people to enjoy more budget-friendly aquatic activities such as kayaking. (Charles Hauss/Facebook)

"It's sad for the boat owners but it's good news for people that love the region," he said. "And cleaner, too, because 500 boats is a lot of motors in the canal."

According to the city's website, Montreal has about 35 marinas with a total of nearly 4,000 docking spaces and 350 places for visitors.

It is up to the boaters to use the city's online directory to find a new spot to dock, the city says. 

Côté says those spots are in high demand, and pointed out many boaters rely on the marina should they need to stop because of dangerous weather. 

"The other marinas around the city do not have the capacity to absorb the amount of boats that the Lachine Marina caters to," she said. 

"The Montreal marinas are full. There are more than 2,800 boaters currently on a waiting list." 

The new waterfront park is slated to open gradually and be completed by 2025. 

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak


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