Auteur: La Presse Canadienne
The annual event is intended to promote the safety of the St. Lawrence River and demand public access for swimming.
About 30 people braved the cool weather Saturday morning and jumped into the St. Lawrence River to promote “safe, public access” to swimming in the Jacques-Cartier basin in the Old Port of Montreal.
The event, known as the Big Splash, was organized for its 15th year by the Fondation Rivières. The environmental organization insists the waters of the Jacques-Cartier basin are “practically always clean, and access is safe.” Nonetheless, the Old Port of Montréal Corporation refuses to authorize swimming in the area.
“How many years will it take for the authorities of Montreal’s Old Port to follow the example of their Quebec City counterparts?” wrote the Fondation Rivières in a statement, referencing the decision made in recent days by the Port of Quebec to allow swimming in the Louise basin starting next summer.
According to the most recent data on an interactive map that monitors the quality of Montreal’s waterways published on the city’s website, the quality of the water is considered “good” in the Old Port marina and “excellent” at the nearby Clock Tower Beach.
In an interview with La Presse Canadienne, the Old Port of Montréal Corporation refused to admit that the water in the Jacques-Cartier basin is clean enough for swimming. The organization added that questions about the water’s quality should be directed to the Port of Montreal.
When asked if the Crown corporation would consider setting up a designated swimming area, Nathalie Carrière, the director of marketing and business relations, said those waters are “dedicated to navigation.” Cruise lines, such as the Bateau-Mouche and Le Petit Navire, run shuttle boats to the island’s east end and Longueuil, and the Port d’escale Marina is also located in the area, she noted.
The Old Port of Montréal Corporation said it would be “open” to the idea of installing a pool on its land and working with the city to find an “alternative” to allowing swimming around the Clock Tower Pier, an option that has been repeatedly rejected due to safety hazards, including the strength of the current and the presence of boats.