MONTRÉAL, Oct 5, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - Starting in 2017, within Montréal's 375th anniversary, Verdunites will be able to take advantage of a new beach set up in the heart of the Borough's downtown core, behind the Verdun Auditorium. Borough Mayor Jean-François Parenteau is pleased to announce the choice of this public gathering place for developing this major legacy for Verdun.
"For a long time, residents have been demanding better access to the river. Giving Verdun a beach again is a wonderful way of providing them with privileged access to the water and enhancing our outstanding waterfront environment," stated Mayor Parenteau. "The Borough is particularly blessed with over 14 kilometres of public shorelines. We therefore had a number of optional sites where a beach could be developed. During the summer, we heard from numerous Verdunites who expressed their opinion in favour of the site behind the Auditorium, which is particularly ideal due to its accessibility. Despite the challenges it poses, I am confident that it is the best place that we could choose. In reaching the decision to develop the area behind the Auditorium, we are opting for a real gathering place," the Mayor went on to say.
As it may be recalled, at a public consultation that reached out to over 1500 residents in 2014, the beach project was the one that gave rise to the most enthusiasm for enhancing Verdun's waterfront areas. The new Administration therefore decided to make it a legacy for the Borough, within the scope of Montréal's 375th anniversary celebrations. Verdun's beach, from now on, is one of the leading projects within the new Water Plan unveiled this year by Montréal's Administration.
A local, urban, environmentally-friendly beach in the heart of Verdun
Ideally located just steps away from Verdun's economic hub and only a few minutes from downtown Montréal, the future beach will combine urban and natural environments.
This site will make the most of all the advantages of a dynamic, diversified, urban environment, for the greatest benefit of those who will come here to enjoy it. "One of the main assets of the site behind the Auditorium is its accessibility. A few minutes from the métro and with a multi-purpose path running alongside it, this site is very well served by public transit and very well adapted to active transportation. In addition, developing the beach at this location will boost business at the already booming Promenade Wellington nearby. In return, the products and services of the commercial establishments already situated along the Promenade as well as the many recreational and sports facilities close at hand will make the beach an even more pleasurable experience for our residents. It will be a very appealing hub of activities for them," mentioned Mayor Parenteau.
Concerned about the principles of sustainable development and environment protection, the Borough plans to protect the main ecological features of the selected site. The existing wooded banks near the water will be preserved and maintaining the local plant species will be a priority. On the other hand, the desire to preserve the ecological features of the environment will have an impact on the size of the beach, which will therefore be narrower and will stretch out along the riverbank. With such a configuration, there will be enough place for 400 to 500 swimmers at a time, thereby making it a beach on a local scale.
Moreover, considering Montréal's designation as a UNESCO City of Design, the Borough will hire a landscape architect firm to develop the final design concept.
Challenges associated with each of the sites
The Borough's final choice was based on a set of studies relating to the features of the targeted sites along the shoreline areas. During an initial feasibility study comparing four locations in terms of safety issues, potential environmental impacts as well as the pros and cons of their geographic situation, two sites stood out for developing the future beach there: the former snow disposal site near the Natatorium and the site behind the Auditorium. Following a series of analyses examining in detail the water depth measurement, the determination of relevant physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil, the wild life, plant life and impacts on traffic and parking, the two areas proved suitable for a beach development project. However, both also pose challenges.
The environmental studies indicated that the riverbanks of both sites are already environments that are highly disturbed by human activity. Once mineralized and their structures removed, these two areas would benefit from an intervention to revitalize them and integrate them into Verdun's waterfront park. The soil of both sites should be decontaminated within any future project.
As far as their geographic location and their physical features are concerned, the two sites present distinct challenges: Near the Natatorium, a mainly residential area already subject to an influx of visitors in the summer during activities at the dance floor, the development of a beach would therefore create additional pressure on street parking.
As for the site behind the Auditorium, there are certain constraints associated with this location as well, the main one being related to the physical features of the river: the current flows very quickly there and the shores are deep. In order to develop a safe swimming area, it will be necessary to redevelop the shoreline and set up a projection in the river to reduce the current.
"Despite these constraints, we will take up the challenge in order to provide our residents with an environmentally-friendly, urban beach for Montréal's 375th anniversary," added Mayor Parenteau in his closing remarks.
The Borough will start taking the steps to obtain the certificates of authorization from the Québec government's Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques.
A public call for tenders will be issued (among landscape architect firms) to develop the design concept.
A public call for tenders will be issued for the work involved in developing the site.
The beach will be open to the public.
SOURCE Ville de Montréal - Arrondissement de Verdun
Image with caption: "Urban Beach in Verdun (CNW Group/Ville de Montréal - Arrondissement de Verdun)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20151005_C5768_PHOTO_EN_513652.jpg
For further information: Source: Verdun Borough; Information: Honorine Youmbissi, Verdun Borough, Telephone no.: 514 765-7282, [email protected]